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Siquijor Selected as Focus Regeneration Area for Marine Protected Area Rehabilitation Program

Siquijor Selected as Focus Regeneration Area for Marine Protected Area Rehabilitation Program

Siquijor Province has been chosen as one of the focus regeneration areas for the RRREEFS (Rethinking, Rebuilding, Regenerating Coral Reefs) marine protected area rehabilitation program. The program aims to revive 1% of coastal coral reefs on Planet Earth by 2033 using 3D-printed, modular reef systems.

In collaboration with local stakeholders in Siquijor, the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation (CCEF) assisted Ms. Hanna Kuhfuss, the Head of Field Operations and Scientific Partnership at RRREEFS, in conducting a scoping assessment of the Marine Protected Area in Siquijor for reef rehabilitation. The assessment involved evaluating the current condition of the reefs, identifying the causes of degradation, and determining the feasibility of implementing rehabilitation measures.

The scoping assessment was successfully conducted in three Marine Protected Areas: Lalag Bato Marine Sanctuary in Lazi, Bogo Marine Sanctuary in Maria, and Tulapos MPA in Enrique Villanueva. The assessment utilized the point-intercept method to assess the reef habitat substrate. In Lalag Bato Marine Sanctuary, the live hard coral cover was estimated at 11.06%, with soft coral accounting for 25.37% cover. The presence of degradation was also documented.

RRREEFS’ modular reef system, which is 3D-printed from non-toxic natural clay, can be customized in terms of size and shape to suit specific geographic and water flow conditions. This customization allows for effective redirection of currents while providing suitable habitat for coral recruitment and settling spaces for other marine organisms. The modular system offers a balanced approach to reef rehabilitation by meeting breakwater requirements without compromising essential habitat and substrate functions.

RRREEFS chose to work in the Philippines due to the country’s commitment to preserving fragile ecosystems and its rich marine and terrestrial biodiversity. By focusing their efforts in the Philippines, RRREEFS aims to contribute to ongoing conservation efforts and help protect the country’s valuable natural resources.

CCEF is committed to supporting this collaboration as they recognize the importance of ecosystem-level management and the necessity of local-level knowledge from coastal communities. This knowledge is crucial for effectively enhancing and conserving coastal conservation in Lalag Bato Marine Sanctuary, Lazi. The partnership between CCEF and RRREEFS aims to ensure the successful preservation and enhancement of this marine sanctuary, benefiting both the local community and the overall ecosystem.

On July 3, 2023, Ms. Hanna delivered a presentation on RRREEFS projects in the Visayas Region to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Director and staff, as well as business owners and the Executive Director and staff of CCEF in Cebu City. The DENR Regional Director, RD Melichor, has expressed full endorsement and support for the RRREEFS projects in the region, recognizing their importance and potential impact.

The next step in this collaboration is the drafting and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between RRREEFS and CCEF. The MOU will formalize the partnership and outline the responsibilities and commitments of both parties.

Partnerships and cooperation have been established with various individuals and organizations, including Ms. Hanna Kuhfuss from RRREEFS, property owner Raul Arcenas in Lower Cabangcalan, Lazi, the Municipality of Enrique Villanueva’s Municipal Agriculture Office, Harold Bongat from TUMPAAS, the Municipality of Maria’s Municipal Agriculture Office, Lloyd Panerio, a Fisheries Technician, and Regional Director of DENR Region VII, Paquito Melichor.

With the support of DENR and the collaboration between RRREEFS and CCEF, the marine protected area rehabilitation projects in the region are set to receive the necessary resources, cooperation, and advocacy from regional authorities. This support will greatly enhance the effectiveness and overall outcomes of the projects.

Moving forward, CCEF is set to formalize the partnership with REEEFS to ensure the successful implementation of the marine protected area rehabilitation program in Siquijor.

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