The island of Gili Air in Indonesia has historically been protected by coral reefs and seagrass fields but are now seeing their island slowly being eaten away by the ocean. Tragically, this is happening all over the world due to the loss of natural protection, rising sea levels and increased storms.
Seagrass is the only flowering plant that can live underwater and is located in coastal waters all around the world. It is essential for Coral reefs, because it cycles nutrients and creates habitat corridors between coral reefs and beaches. Together with coral reefs, seagrasses support 25% of global marine life. Furthermore, it takes up carbon 35 times faster than tropical rainforests and it improves water quality and protects coastlines. However, 50% of global coral reefs have been lost over the last 30 years. This has caused Gili Air to lose 5 meters of coastline in the last 3 years. With the rapid decline of these natural barriers and the ecosystem services they provide, urgent action is needed today.
The coral reef conservation start-up Reefy, and the international marine research center Gili Shark Conservation, aim to make an impact by protecting and restoring coral reef and seagrass fields. With the help of the local community, they restore the seagrass beds, create additional protection for the coast and form an effective natural carbon sink. In this way they managed to become a double-edged sword by protecting the coast and storing carbon at the same time!
We are Jesse Bregman, Inge van Soomeren, Berber Verhalle and Jasmijn Smit and we form a multi-disciplinary team of 4 students from TU Delft and University of Leiden. For the minor International Entrepreneurship and Development, we will work together with Reefy and Gili Shark conservation to replant 1000 m2 of seagrass on the coasts of Gili Air. In the three months we will spend in Indonesia we will test 3 different methods of how we can plant seagrass in the best way and do research on how to grow coral to achieve the best benefits for coast and sea.