United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon, Rome, March 21-23 2017

Live Coverage of the Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon #GSOC17

Soil4Climate Facebook:

Presentations by Tom Goreau, Coordinator, Soil Carbon Alliance

Poster: Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change: Quantity and quality of soil carbon sequestration control rates of CO2 and climate stabilization at safe levels

Abstract


Coral bleaching prediction capacity may soon be destroyed by US Government, Great Barrier Reef bleaching imminent

For nearly 30 years we have been able to predict mass coral bleaching accurately with the Goreau-Hayes Satellite SST HotSpot method (Goreau, 1990 US Senate Hearings on Climate Change; Goreau et al., 1993; Goreau & Hayes, 1994). We have routinely predicted, and confirmed, bleaching events that have never been documented by the coral list or NOAA. There were many such bleaching events last year in places that were hotter for longer than the GBR, but dive shops are now routinely concealing bleaching as “bad for business”.

In one large area of the Pacific where bleaching was certain last year, only one single dive shop would admit it had happened, but did not send photos, not one of the other dive shops would respond to a request for confirmation if bleaching was happening.

The NOAA data base and the web site that documents the HotSpot data is still up, but this may simply be an accidental oversight, as all US Government sites documenting climate are being shut down because the data contradicts the politically-motivated lie that climate change is not happening!

It is very important that other countries take the data leadership role that the US regime is now destroying, because otherwise no-one will have warning when their corals are about to bleach or die.

We can only hope that the European Union, Japan, and China take up the responsibility of real time HotSpot mapping needed to provide alerts.

If there is no database documenting coral death from heat stroke, Governments will continue to falsely say that 2 degrees C further warming is “acceptable”, they will continue to sentence coral reef ecosystems to death, and billions of people living along low lying coasts to become desperate migrants, so many that no walls will be high enough.

Below is the latest Pacific HotSpot map. In case it is the very last one that we will ever see it is important to realize that a large area of the South Pacific from the Great Barrier Reef, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga is warming rapidly and now is at or just below bleaching thresholds, although of course it will take about a month at present conditions for it to be generally noticeable, sooner if it continues to warm up, as normal at the very start of the hot season.

jan26_17_hotspot

The current rate of warming is greatest in the GBR, bleaching temperatures have been reached unusually early in the season, and the hot season in Australia has not even started yet!

Barring miraculous cooling, there may be little coral left in the GBR later this year.

Ray Hayes and I have always pointed out that it is extreme events that cause bleaching, not mean changes, and the model based predictions of bleaching, which are based on mean rates of change, which say that bleaching might be a problem in the GBR in another 50 years, have proven falsely optimistic yet again.

When lies trump truth, the new dark ages begin.


In Memoriam: Dr. Nora Goreau April 25 1921 – December 18 2016 – Mother of Coral Reef Science

 

nora goreau
In Memoriam: Dr. Nora Goreau; Mother of Coral Reef Science          April 25 1921 – December 18 2016

Dr. Nora Goreau died peacefully at 95 on December 18 2016 in Old Waterford, Vermont.

Nora Isabel Arango de Urriola was born in Panama City, Panama, the middle of 9
children from a distinguished Panamanian family related to national heroes of several Latin American countries.

Nora was top student at the University of Panama Law School when an unexpected scholarship offer came to study biology in the United States. She attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Iowa State University, De Paul University, and did doctoral research in neurophysiology at the University of Chicago, publishing her first paper in 1949 on Inhibition of Brain Dehydrogenases by Acetylcholinesterases. There she met and married Thomas F. Goreau, a visiting researcher who was simultaneously doing a PhD in Ecology at Yale University and a MD at University of Pennsylvania.

Soon after they moved to Jamaica, where Tom taught Physiology at the new
University of the West Indies Medical School, training a generation of doctors for a
region with very few. He was the first diving marine scientist in the world, the first
to study the zonation of the reef, doing fundamental cutting edge work in every
aspect of coral reef biochemistry, physiology, ecology, and geology. While Nora
was not herself a diver, she was an equal partner in the research, specializing in
the anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and histology of coral reef organisms Tom
found. Working in the field on weekends under primitive conditions without
funding while they taught in Kingston during the week, Nora identified the
specimens Tom collected in the microscope and set up experiments to understand
their biological roles in the reef.

To support their scientific research she also worked as a biology teacher in two
Jamaican girls’ high schools, Wolmer’s and Immaculate. Her ability to inspire
students was such that all her students achieved highest First Class Distinctions
in the British university entrance exams, except for one who got a Second Class
Distinction. This was despite the fact that she took on classes with no biology
background less than a year before the examination, and the schools had no copies
of the examination syllabus or curriculum, so she had to cover all aspects of
biology. Her students went on to become Jamaica’s first women scientists.

Jamaica was surrounded by pristine coral reefs, which were the first in the world
to be explored by diving, and they moved systematically all around the island to
study every reef. Tom and Nora founded their first marine laboratory in abandoned
naval warehouses in the old pirate capital, Port Royal, badly damaged by Hurricane
Charlie in 1951, which caused massive destruction to the coral reefs, and carried
away the roof of their home. They founded the Discovery Bay Marine Lab to expand
their research to the North Coast, which had some of the most magnificent reefs in
the Caribbean, with vertical canyons a hundred feet deep covered with corals (now
graveyards). Discovery Bay was named for Columbus’ arrival in Jamaica, but the
Admiral disappointedly called it Puerto Seco, or Dry Harbour, because they nearly
died running over the coral reef into the protected bay, only to find none of the
fresh water they were desperate for.

Tom and Nora built a laboratory in the abandoned toilet of the Puerto Seco
Fisherman’s Beach, useless to the fishermen because there was no water. They
arranged with a nearby resort to get water piped in for a lab they built, and for the
fishermen to rinse their catch and gear, building the toilet up with research space
and lockers for the fishermens’ gear. There they did the fundamental research that
made the Lab the world’s leader in tropical marine biology working next to the
fishermen, who were grateful for the knowledge they gained.

Their path-breaking scientific work resulted in Sir Maurice Yonge, leader of the
1920s Cambridge University Great Barrier Reef Expedition, and founder of modern
coral reef research, adopting them as his intellectual successors. Maurice had
been the world’s top expert on coral reefs although he had stopped working in
reefs in the 1920s, but he was re-invigorated by the way Tom and Nora constantly
pushed the science ahead with new methods. Maurice joined them out of
retirement to do fundamental research on coral nutrition, giant clams, on bizarre
symbiotic clams living inside coral skeletons, and returning to the Great Barrier
Reef with Tom in the 1960s to look at the changes there 40 years later.

Sir Maurice Yonge and Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, the great aunt of
Queen Elizabeth II, kindly helped them get support from the Wolfson foundation in
England to build a modern research laboratory on the other side of Discovery Bay,
on land they got donated to the University of the West Indies by a bauxite company.
They designed the lab to be the best research facility for tropical science in the
world. Tragically, just before the lab opened, Tom suddenly died at 45 from severe
cancer, induced by exposure to nuclear radiation in 1947, when he had been the
diver who collected radioactive specimens from Bikini Atoll after the first nuclear
bomb test. Nora was left with three children to support.

The pace of their constant field work exploring the unknown world of coral reefs
left little time for writing, so Nora proceeded to publish their key findings in a series
of classic scientific papers on the ecology, geology, and biology of coral reef
ecosystems, describing how reef organisms interact and how they function at the
fundamental level of the carbon biogeochemical cycle. As the person who knew
more about corals than anyone, she single-handedly preserved and passed on the
knowledge of the past, and throughout the 1970s and 1980s trained new
generations of coral reef researchers who came from all over the world to
Discovery Bay to learn from her deep knowledge of coral reefs and seek her
research advice and constructive criticism.

A partial list of her many pioneering scientific accomplishments include:
Nora, the first Panamanian and Central American marine scientist, was the world’s
top expert on coral anatomy, histology, physiology, cell biology, developmental
biology, and biochemistry, an equal partner with her husband, who specialized in
diving, ecology, and geology of reefs. She and Tom pioneered understanding of
the complex symbiosis between corals and algae by developing analytical and
experimental methods to use radioactive isotopes to trace the complex pathways
and interactions of carbon through photosynthesis, feeding, excretion, and skeleton growth, gaining fundamental insight into coral physiology and reef
ecology that could have been gained no other way.

Nora was the first to discover the sclerosponges, from specimens Tom brought
back from caves in the reef 300 feet down. These living fossils had built reefs
hundreds of millions of years ago and were thought long extinct. After Tom’s death
her name was unconscionably omitted from the scientific papers describing her
discoveries, written by his US colleague.

She inspired graduate students from all over the Caribbean and the rest of the
world to learn from her at the Zoology Department of the University of the West
Indies, in Mona, Jamaica, and at Discovery Bay Marine Lab. With Dunbar Steele at
the University of the West Indies she did fundamental work on the regulation of the
symbiotic algae, and with Raymond Hayes, working at the University of the West
Indies, University of Pittsburgh, Morehouse University, and Howard University she
worked on coral immunology and discovered with electron microscopes how
corals form the minute embryonic seed crystals of their skeleton inside their cells
and then extrude them to continue to grow beneath them.

She saved and maintained the definitive scientific collections of Caribbean coral
skeletons, microscope tissue slides and preserved specimens, papers, field notes,
and the world’s largest collection of underwater coral reef photographs from the
1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. These are in the hands of the non-profit Global Coral Reef
Alliance, which is seeking funds to preserve her legacy by scanning the entire
collection and making it available on the web as the definitive record of a now-
vanished world of pristine coral reefs.

Nora inspired everyone who knew her with her warmth, compassion, dignity,
humility, love of knowledge, insistence on rigor and excellence, and quiet
persistence despite hopeless adversity. For single-handedly preserving the entire
field of coral research, documenting it, and training new generations to build on
past knowledge, she is regarded as the Mother of Coral Reef Science.

She is deeply missed by sons Tom, Peter, and Stefan, daughters-in–law Margaret,
Clare, and Cheri, and grandchildren Maya, Marina, David, Lodi, Tara, Erik, and
Emma. Her ashes will be buried in the family tomb in Panama.


2017 GCRA PLANS

Featured

2017 GCRA PLANS
GCRA is a global network of volunteers working for more than 25 years on fundamental research on coral threats and on direct action projects to reverse environmental degradation, especially coral reefs. GCRA has done far more to save coral reefs and reverse climate change than all of the Big International Non-Governmental Organizations (BINGOs) put together. Unlike the BINGOs, GCRA does not have millions of dollars in the bank, has no big donors or benefactors, relies almost entirely on very small and scarce donations, has no fancy offices or salaries, and does not peddle glossy brochures, posters, coffee cups or T-shirts, so that we can put all of our efforts to work directly in the field with those who ask for our help to show them how to solve their own local problems.

We could get vastly more accomplished if we had donations! If you genuinely care about the future of the planet, please help us to help those who need to know how to manage their environment with more production and less destruction, instead of giving donations to BINGOs who will waste it on fat salaries, luxurious offices, glossy brochures claiming false credit for effective environmental protection, and TV ads with “celebrities”. Below are some of the major program areas GCRA will pursue in 2017 if we have any funding at all.

SAVING CORAL REEF BIODIVERSITY: INDONESIA CORAL ARKS

Indonesia has the largest and most biodiverse coral reefs in the world, it is the heart of the heart of marine biodiversity. While Indonesian reefs that are still undamaged are the most remarkable reefs anywhere, around 95% have been severely damaged by the entire range of anthropogenic threats at the local, regional, and global scales. In 2016 Indonesia suffered severe coral mortality from heat stroke caused by global warming, and many of the finest reefs lost up to 95-99% of their corals. Temperatures have not cooled down significantly and continue to hover around the bleaching temperature thresholds, so corals have little chance to recover, and new severe bleaching in 2017 is practically assured unless there is a sudden and unprecedented decrease in temperature. Micronesia was similarly affected, but dive shops are now refusing to report bleaching to protect business.

Despite the massive death of corals from high temperature in 2016, Biorock reefs in Indonesia maintained under 24-hour power suffered no noticeable mortality at all, making it the only method that protects corals from dying from global warming.
Because the current pattern of extremely high temperature will almost certainly cause severe bleaching when the 2017 warm season hits Indonesia, it is urgent to set up as many properly maintained Biorock Coral Arks across Indonesia as possible in order to maintain the species until global warming can be reversed. We are already growing around 80% of all the coral genera in the world, but we want to save all of the species.

GCRA has held 11 Indonesian Biorock training workshops and trained hundreds of Indonesian students in the new methods. They are eager to go out and use their skills to support community-based restoration and management projects, so every Indonesian fishing village can restore their reefs and fisheries the way we have done in the world’s two largest coral reef restoration projects in Bali and Lombok, with no funding at all from any international agency or government, purely with local support and small donations from tourists. But there are no jobs for them to use their knowledge and skills, because Indonesia is not yet supporting large scale community-managed restoration of fisheries habitats.

80% of Indonesia’s protein comes from the sea, but coastal fisheries are in collapse. GCRA urgently seeks donations to expand the Indonesia Biorock coral reef and fisheries restoration projects to the many subsistence fishing villages that need and want it. Vanuatu is also a major priority for these efforts.

GROWING BACK SEVERLY ERODED BEACHES RAPIDLY AND NATURALLY

Global sea level rise threatens all beaches and low lying coasts nearly as much as global warming threatens coral reefs and fisheries. GCRA has developed the only method known to result in rapid natural restoration of severely eroded beaches, by restoring coral reefs, oyster reefs, sea grasses, salt marshes, and mangroves at extraordinary growth rates in places when ecosystems would die from severe stress, or where there has been no natural recovery at all. Yet there remains no serious effort to protect coasts against the inevitable impacts of global sea level rise that will flood coastlines for hundreds of thousands or millions of years if action is not urgently taken to reverse global climate change. Policy makers are simply pretending the problem does not exist, because we have so far hardly felt the effects compared to what is inevitably to come unless atmospheric CO2 is reduced around 40% to safe levels.

GCRA is seeking funds to help communities losing their beaches to grow them back quickly and naturally, while restoring their fisheries and biodiversity at the same time. Our first focus is Negril Beach, Jamaica’s largest and most important tourist beach, whose loss would seriously impact the national economy. Another is St. Jean Beach in Saint Barthelemy, where millions of dollars have been spent pumping sand on the beach that washes away. These have been chosen because GCRA scientists know these areas intimately, and have been asked by local communities and governments for help.

REGENERATIVE DEVELOPMENT TO REVERSE CLIMATE CHANGE

Despite all the publicity about the Great Barrier Reef bleaching in 2016, many more places around the globe were more badly affected by extreme high temperatures. GCRA invented and developed the HotSpot method for accurately predicting coral bleaching from satellite sea surface temperature, and has been able to warn people of impending coral bleaching before it can be seen on the reef since 1990, when we first warned the US Senate Hearing on Impacts of Global Warming that high temperature is the major cause of coral bleaching and mortality and that we are already at or above temperature levels that will quickly drive coral reef ecosystems to extinction in a few years if urgent action is not taken to reverse climate change. Deliberate failure of governments to act on global warming now places this catastrophe only a few years away.

The urgency cannot be understated because more than 100 countries will lose most of their marine biodiversity and ecosystem services such as fisheries, tourism, shore protection, and sand supplies for beaches, and billions of people will be forced to migrate away from flooding coasts. Yet instead of taking action, many governments are simply sticking their heads in the sand and pretending that the problem does not exist. GCRA will work with communities who realize that their future depends on their own actions, not waiting for hand-outs that could largely be stolen by politicians and the cronies they serve.

GCRA, through its affiliate, the Soil Carbon Alliance, has been a leader in showing how the global carbon cycle can be stabilized at safe levels to prevent runaway global warming and sea level rise, and the critical factors that determine how quickly this can be done. GCRA works closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change Initiative, which represent 52 countries including most Small Island Developing States, and 2.5 billion people, a third of the world’s population. Major initiatives will be presented at the next United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations in Fiji.

GCRA is seeking funds to set up training programs in community-managed whole-watershed and coastal zone ecosystem restoration and management, especially in developing countries and islands who need it the most.

GCRA INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION PROJECTS

GCRA places top priority on working closely with indigenous cultures, especially sea peoples, around the world, to give them access to the best scientific knowledge and new techniques for restoring their own ecosystems, preserving their ancient knowledge, while acquiring new concepts and methods that can empower them to adapt to global climate change on their own terms. GCRA works for little or no money (but expenses) to help the First Peoples acquire the best methods to restore their lands, waters, and cultures. Working with poor indigenous cultures is more important to us than helping rich countries who could afford climate change adaptation measures if they chose to. Details of 12 of the different indigenous communities around the world that are the GCRA’s top priorities are listed in a separate document that can be found in the related document on Indigenous Restoration.

GCRA is urgently seeking support to help these ancient, but threatened peoples, to preserve their knowledge and cultures, while adapting to climate change, and using the most appropriate modern methods under their own terms for their survival and advancement.

GCRA HISTORIC ARCHIVES

GCRA has the world’s largest collection of underwater photographs of coral reefs from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, taken by the inventor of macro-photography who took the first good underwater photographs, Fritz Goreau (Goro) and his son Thomas F. Goreau. These include the first underwater photographs to document reef ecology and health of the Great Barrier Reef, the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Red Sea, the West Pacific, and many parts of the Caribbean. It also includes nearly a thousand hours of digital video transects of coral reefs taken all around the Caribbean, Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia by Thomas J. F. Goreau since the mid 1990s. The photos include the first underwater quadrat and line transect data for quantitative marine ecology. It also contains several other historic underwater photographic archives donated by the original photographers and their heirs. None of this material has been scanned or archived due to lack of funds. It provides the only global archive of a lost coral reef world, showing how the reefs looked before their damage and before any other marine researchers saw them.

GCRA also has the worlds’ most important historical photographic archive of the development of science in the 20th century, taken by Fritz Goreau from the early 1930s through the late 1980s. He invented many fundamental macroscopic and microscopic methods for photographic documentation to reveal previously invisible phenomena, and was regarded by all his colleagues at LIFE Magazine as the finest photographer in the world. Only a tiny fraction of these photographs were published by editors who were interested only in pretty pictures and not in intellectual information content. The archive is unique in the extraordinary way that every aspect of each fundamental phenomena from all branches of science is explored is complete explored, along with detailed documentation, making a unique encyclopedia of science of unequaled historical, educational, and scientific value.

GCRA is urgently seeking donations to scan, archive, safely store, and post the entire image archive on the web, linked to the metadata.


Happy Winter Solstice! 2016 GCRA Activities

Happy Winter Solstice!
Summary of 2016 GCRA Activities
2016 GCRA accomplishments in 13 countries are briefly summarized below by country in roughly chronological order:

COSTA RICA
Filming sustainable and regenerative tropical agriculture methods for full length documentary film by Marcy Cravat about the role of soil fertility restoration in reversing climate change. The film, entitled Dirt Rich, will be released in 2017.

PANAMA
Filming impacts of mangrove destruction for Dirt Rich. Monitoring and maintenance of Panamanian Biorock coral reef, sea grass, and mangrove restoration projects. Work with the Guna Indian communities and Government on developing Biorock shore protection projects to save their islands from global sea level rise (the Guna are now being forced to evacuate nearly a quarter of their villages on low lying islands because of increased flooding and erosion). Developing projects in soil fertility restoration to try to save the Guna sacred plants, which have nearly vanished due to a fungal disease.

SENEGAL
Workshop on regenerative development with Fula cattle herders in Younoufere, on the edge of the Sahara Desert, focusing on methods to reverse desertification by improving soil fertility, soil water holding capacity, and sustainable production of new forage, fuel, and food crops.

BAHAMAS
Filming for full length documentary by Andrew Nisker on coral disease and algae smothering impacts caused by golf course chemical pollution on Bahamaian coral reefs, to be released in 2017. Sampling for long term study of chemical changes in algae that are pollution monitors and their relationship to golf course fertilizers, and of the sudden expansion of coral diseases and algae overgrowth that immediately followed golf course construction, the first place in the world these impacts have been documented.

GRENADA
Assessment of coral reef health in Grenada and Carriacou Marine Protected Areas with the Grenada Fisheries Department, and development of coral reef restoration strategies to reverse reef deterioration and improve coastal fisheries.

VANUATU
Training workshop in coral reef and fisheries restoration for artisanal fishing communities in Vanuatu, sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (the first funding GCRA has ever had from any international funding agency or government for reef restoration in 30 years). Biorock reefs were built in a village whose coral reef was dredged and destroyed in 1943 by the US military for an airport, and never recovered. Many other Vanuatu fishing villages are requesting similar training. They have tried all the conventional coral reef restoration methods, and found none of them worked. Lectures on local coral reef problems to the Vanuatu Environment Society and to the University of the South Pacific.

JAMAICA
Keynote talk at Conference on Alternatives to Sea Walls, sponsored by the Negril Beach Committee and the Negril Chamber of Commerce. Hundreds of local people attended due to concern at beach erosion and massive public opposition to a plan to build a seawall the length of the beach. The Government subsequently cancelled the proposal, and the community is requesting a Biorock coral reef and beach restoration project, because they remember the record growth rates of corals on Biorock projects in Negril 20 years ago. Continued assessment of long term changes in Negril coral reefs since before any development nearly 60 years ago.

INDONESIA
Bali: Assessment of more than 100 Biorock coral reef restoration projects at Pemuteran with our local partners, Yayasan Karang Lestari and Biorock Indonesia, and new Biorock projects at Pejarakan, with the local village community, immediately after devastating bleaching caused by high temperature, attacks by coral-eating starfish, and exceptional wave damage. At Pejarakan the outer reefs, which had nearly 100% live coral cover in 2015, had suffered 95-99% mortality in 2016, due to heat stroke caused by global warming. Corals on the Biorock projects were exceptionally healthy. Survival of Pemuteran corals on Biorock were much higher than the surrounding reefs, but still most of the Biorock corals were lost because power was maintained only for about a third of the day instead of full time, so they were inadequately protected from record high temperatures, which lasted 24 hours a day for months. GCRA assisted the Pemuteran Biorock team in massive propagation of surviving corals, which will now be maintained under 24-hour power when bleaching hits again, as is expected in 2017. Due to incredible efforts by the local Biorock Centre team, the project has been largely restored. Preparation of a socioeconomic study that shows that the Biorock projects have restored the collapsed fisheries and turned Pemuteran from the poorest village in Bali to one of the most prosperous, due to the large number of people who come from all over the world to see the spectacular Biorock reefs. Assessment of algae and water quality problems, and of the soil erosion, water loss in floods, and pollution in Pemuteran that is impoverishing both the land and the sea, and proposals for whole watershed and coastal zone management to reverse them, based on those GCRA developed in Jamaica 20 years ago.

Sulawesi: Assessment of the results of Biorock beach restoration project at Pulau Gangga. A severely eroded beach was restored in just months during 2016 by natural sand growth caused by Biorock reefs, the beach grew in height by about 1.5 meters and in width by about 10 meters. Design and construction of equipment to measure beach profile changes rapidly and accurately. The Biorock reefs not only grew the beach back at record rates, they stimulated prolific growth of hard and soft corals, sea grass, barnacles, sea urchins, fish, and oyster populations.

Lombok: Assessment of more than 100 Biorock coral reef restoration projects at Gili Trawangan with the Gili Eco Trust. Coral mortality from high temperatures during 2016 on local coral reefs were around 95% or more. Similar mortality was seen on Biorock reefs that had not been maintained under power. Biorock projects under 24-hour power had complete coral survival and prolific growth with no visible mortality, comparing monitoring films and photographs of the same projects in early 2016 before bleaching, and in late 2016 afterwards. Biorock projects that had only partial or sporadic power had partial mortality, but not nearly as severe as Biorock reefs with no power at all. This shows, as found in the Maldives in 1998, and Thailand in 2005, that Biorock is the only method that protects corals from dying from heat stroke.

West Papua: Assessment of beach profiles before a Biorock beach restoration project planned for 2017 at Papua Paradise Resort, Raja Ampat, to restore the physically damaged reef whose loss has caused beach erosion. Assessment of physical, chemical, and oceanographic factors affecting Raja Ampat corals, an area widely regarded as the richest in marine biodiversity in the world.

Indonesia has around three quarters of all the Biorock structures in the world, and has developed a large community of Indonesians committed to restoring their coral reefs, who keep doing new projects wherever they can. Hundreds of Biorock structures have been made not only in Bali and Lombok, but at many locations in Sulawesi, Flores, Java, Sumbawa, and Ambon. New projects are being developed in Halmahera and Kalimantan. The last will focus on Biorock mangrove restoration of areas that were clear cut and destroyed. The Indonesian Biorock community is unique in the world for being so large and committed to regenerative development, and is very effectively organized by Prawita Tasya Karissa.

MEXICO
Quintana Roo. Keynote talk on impacts of pollution from captive dolphin wastes causing algae smothering of coral reefs at the Conference on Captive Dolphins in Mexico and the Caribbean. Filming and sampling of algae for chemical pollution analysis up-current, along, and down-current from four captive dolphin operations in Mexico, at sites affected by deep groundwater sewage pumping, and control sites. Maintenance and improvement of Biorock coral restoration project in Cozumel, and development of Biorock projects for restoring eroded beaches and stimulating growth of oysters at the only pearl farm in the Caribbean. A new Biorock project was installed in Cozumel.

Sonora. Plans continued for development of sustainable tidal current energy production in the Sea of Cortes with the Comca’ac (Seri) Indians in order to provide electricity, water, and Biorock mariculture of rare but valuable endemic species, and production of cements from the sea that remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

ENGLAND
Commonwealth Secretariat Meeting on Regenerative Development to Reverse Global Warming, to develop a sustainable ecosystem and soil restoration strategy to reverse global warming and sea level rise, for 52 countries with 2.5 billion people (a third of the Earth’s population) to be announced in June 2017, to be followed by new initiatives at the 23d Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations to be held in Fiji in late 2017 . Lecture on saving coral reefs from global warming at the Oxford University Environmental Change Institute.

CUBA
Talks on Sustainable Development for Small Island Developing States: the Challenge of Climate Change in the Sea, and on Innovative Energy Technologies and Environmental Restoration for Sustainable Development for Reversing Global Warming at the International Conference on Energy and Innovation for Sustainable Development. Meetings with Cuban researchers on solving local coral reef, beach erosion, and soil fertility problems.

SAINT BARTHELEMY
Three new Biorock coral reef and fisheries restoration projects put under power. Many more will be started when the weather is better. The Saint Barthelemy projects will soon be the largest in the Caribbean, with a special focus on restoring rare endangered coral species. These projects, done with a local dive shop owner, Turenne Laplace, use very innovative designs aimed to increase fish populations as well as corals, and recycle conch shells that would otherwise be thrown away by fishermen. Assessment of a Biorock coral nursery built in 2015 with Dr. Nathalie Ledee and Eric Chaumont that now has prolific growth of the most important and endangered elkhorn and staghorn corals, and two kinds of natural hybrids between the two species, in a high wave energy location where the reef is dead, smothered with algae, and rapidly eroding. Development of plans to expand the project to restore the major tourism beach on the island, where millions have been spent pumping sand that washed away.

USA
Florida: The only Biorock coral reef restoration project in the USA was terminated for political reasons by the Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea with no consultation as soon as the three-year State-mandated monitoring period ended. They literally pulled the plug on the project by cutting the cables and removing the solar power buoys GCRA and our local partners Vone Research, had designed and built at our own expense. It took 5 years to get permission to restore corals in Florida, two more years after they were installed before the State would allow naturally broken corals to be rescued, and then permission was refused for the most important coral staghorn and elkhorn corals, unusually abundant in the area, which we were not allowed to rescue even though Biorock produces record growth rates of these species, so we were forced to watch them steadily die from pollution and disease after being broken by storms due to bureaucratic incompetence. The 3-year monitoring of the project showed rapid coral growth and high fish populations, an oasis in a desert of dying corals. As soon as they removed our solar power buoys the corals began to die like the surrounding reef.

New York: 9 years of Biorock oyster and salt marsh restoration projects at Superfund Toxic Waste site in New York City, conducted without funding, continued to show prolific growth of salt marsh and oysters in a severely polluted area, the most successful example of restoration of either known. New York City now proposes to destroy our restoration projects with a huge storm drain to flush polluted water right onto them. The local community is fighting to save them.

California: Oyster, salt marsh, and sea grass restoration projects were started with the Romberg Research Center of San Francisco State University, sponsored by Save our Seas, Save Our Oceans. The goal is to restore these severely damaged ecosystems and the fisheries that depend on them, and to reverse the severe erosion of salt marshes now underway around San Francisco Bay.

Massachusetts: Soil fertility research projects using rock powders and biochar were conducted with Remineralize The Earth, a non-profit group promoting the use of natural materials as slow-release fertilizers that last for many decades. Talks on the oceans, global warming, and the carbon cycle, and on large scale marine ecosystem restoration, were presented at the Conference on Restoring Oceans, Restoring Climate at the Harvard University Museum of Natural History, sponsored by Biodiversity for a Livable Climate. A talk on restoring soils to reverse global warming in time to prevent runaway climate change was presented at the World Soil Day Event in Harvard Square sponsored by Soil4Climate, Green Cambridge, and the Soil Carbon Alliance.

OTHER COUNTRIES

GCRA continued to advise many more individuals and groups all over the world regarding solution of their local problems, and to make important advances in Biorock technology and new applications. Only projects that resulted in direct action during 2016 are listed above.


GCRA Indigenous Peoples’ Environmental Restoration And Climate Change Adaptation Projects

GCRA Indigenous Peoples’ Environmental Restoration And Climate Change Adaptation Projects

Indigenous peoples have managed the natural resources they live from since the dawn of humanity, and are guardians of most of the world’s biodiversity. But they are now the first and worst victims of climate change they did not cause and are powerless to prevent, while their lands and waters are being stolen, and their ancient cultures being destroyed, by powerful outside forces.

GCRA places top priority on working closely with indigenous cultures, especially sea peoples, around the world, to give them access to the best scientific knowledge and new techniques for restoring their own ecosystems and preserving their ancient knowledge, while acquiring new concepts and methods that can empower them to adapt to global climate change on their own terms. GCRA works for little or no money (but expenses) to help the First Peoples acquire the best methods to restore their lands, waters, and cultures. Working with poor indigenous cultures is more important to us than helping rich countries who could afford climate change adaptation measures if they chose to.

There is a critical need to raise funding to support projects and training to restore their ecosystems and maintain their cultures against accelerating threats of global cultural homogenization and climate change. We are desperately seeking tax-deductible charitable donations to complete the 12 critical environmental projects described below, in partnership with different Indigenous Peoples around the world.

GCRA has very specific and long-standing ties with all of these groups, and has their full backing because of their appreciation for detailed information and advice we have given them in the past, based on deep knowledge of their histories, cultures, and environmental issues. Most of these connections are personal and family ties of GCRA’s President Tom Goreau, henceforward TG, who plans to write a book on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change. TG has worked with the United Nations Indigenous People’s Caucus at the UN Climate Change Negotiations.

Panama Guna Indians
The Guna (Kuna, Cuna) Indians of Panama are a fishing and diving people who never lost their independence to the Spanish, and have maintained their cultural and political institutions intact. They preserved their independence and traditions by deliberate isolation, never allowing outsiders to cut down their jungles, bring in cattle, own anything in their lands, or even invest in them.

The Gunas have a remarkable society with no hereditary leaders, they elect them based on their knowledge and wisdom. Reports by Jamaican pirates in the late 1600s of a culture with no kings or hereditary aristocracy, where anyone could rise to leadership based on their ability, were the direct roots of the French Revolution’s “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite”, and the European enlightenment’s demand for full participatory democracy, not ancient Athens, where most people were slaves.

Because the Gunas think they are as good as anyone else, they are regarded as “uppity” Indians who don’t know their place, and their refusal to be subservient offends the Panamanian Government, so they are politically and economically marginalized, and receive little funding for their essential needs. Most Guna die from drinking contaminated river water, even the clinics don’t have clean water.

The Gunas live on 50 tiny islands in the sea, which they built by mining corals over the centuries. The Gunas are free divers for lobster, and produce around 80% of Panama’s marine exports by value, although almost all of that goes to middlemen who export their catch and not to the Gunas. SCUBA diving is banned in Guna waters, with a special exemption for the GCRA team, because they know we don’t catch or eat lobsters and are helping them grow back their reefs and islands.

Right now the Guna are abandoning a quarter of all of their islands because flooding by global sea level rise is making them uninhabitable, they are already climate change refugees. The Gunas want GCRA to work with them to use Biorock Technology to protect their islands from erosion, to restore their coral reef fisheries, and to restore their over-harvested lobster populations.

TG’s oldest aunt was the Panamanian Minister of Education who established the schools in the Indian regions, personally trained the first generation of teachers, and was made an honorary Guna chief (Sahila) in gratitude. Today the Gunas have the highest participation in education of any group in Panama, because their culture is uniquely based on sharing of knowledge.

GCRA has worked very closely with the Guna Indians since 1994, and are the only non-Guna to have permission to do environmental restoration projects in their lands and waters. In contrast, the Gunas expelled the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution Laboratory because they took corals without permission, did not share knowledge, and treated the Guna as intellectual inferiors.

GCRA has never been able to find funds to return to train Guna divers to grow back their reefs and islands as they have repeatedly asked us to do. Any funding we raise will go towards helping them save their islands by growing back their reefs, and restoration and management of their fisheries resources, especially lobster. We also work with them to restore their soil fertility to restore their holy plant, Cacao (chocolate), which has almost been exterminated by fungal diseases.

Panama Ngobe Indians
The Ngobe (Guaymi) Indians are the largest and poorest indigenous community in Panama. When the Ngobe discovered Columbus, he called their land Veraguas, the True Waters, because he had finally found the source of the gold he had tortured and killed his way across the Caribbean to find, with very little result. The Ngobe allowed Columbus to carry all the gold his men could mine in two days, but due to his unacceptable behavior as a guest, trying to force them into slavery and follow his religious superstitions, they told him to leave immediately and never come back, and nearly killed him when he tried to steal still more gold. Columbus himself died before he could get back to Veraguas, but his brother and his son bought African Mandingo slaves from the arabs to mine the gold, who immediately ran away into the jungle and became the first free black Maroons, around 1510.

More than 500 years later, the Ngobe people still won’t allow gold mining, viewing it as an unspeakable violation of their land. Every time Panamanian Governments are bribed by the world’s largest mining companies to seize their lands for mining, they peacefully block the main roads and bridges in Panama, and most people support them, despite the inconvenience. The Ngobe response to the Spanish was to retreat to the jungles, and to this day they largely reject education as a trick to destroy their culture, in strong contrast to the Gunas, who have the intellectual self-confidence to accept the best outside knowledge on their own terms.

TG, whose family roots are in Veraguas (his 95 year old mother who died on December 18 2016, was the first Panamanian marine scientist), is of Ngobe and Mandingo descent, and has lived and dived on Escudo de Veraguas, the tiny offshore island that is their main fisheries resource. This island has a unique species of dwarf sloth, which lives only in a single tiny patch of mangroves, whose leaves they eat. There is hardly any living coral left around their island, with the result that their fisheries are very poor. GCRA aims to work with Ngobe fishermen to restore their fisheries habitat, and with Ngobe farmers on soil fertility restoration projects, using new methods we have developed in Panama, and ancient methods invented by the Amazonian Indians of Brazil thousands of years ago.

Mexico Comca’Ac Indians
The Comca’ac (Seri) Indians are the smallest and most independent indigenous culture in Mexico, speaking a language unrelated to any other. They survived repeated Spanish and Mexican efforts at genocide by hiding for 300 years on desert islands in the Sea of Cortes where no one else could live due to lack of water, living on fish, turtles, and cactus.

Although the Comca’ac have incredibly rich marine resources in Infiernillo Strait between Tiburon Island and coastal Sonora, they are among the poorest people in Mexico. The extremely rapid currents flowing through the strait make it one of the world’s great tidal energy resources. TG is scientific advisor to Tiburon Agua y Electricidad, a group partnering with the Comca’ac to develop their marine currents as a source of low cost renewable energy to produce fresh water from sea water for the Comca’ac in northwestern Mexico, and the Tohono O’odham (Papago) people of Arizona, whose ancient farming lands were abandoned after the US seized their country and pumped the rivers and ground waters dry.

The brine wastes from desalination, normally dumped into the ocean, will be used as a mineral extraction resource, using Biorock Technology, invented by the late Wolf Hilbertz and TG, to produce harder and lower cost building materials than concrete, which remove CO2 from the atmosphere instead of adding it as cement manufacture does.

The Comca’ac fisheries resources are based on several unique species endemic to the area, including two of the world’s most valuable and rapidly growing bivalves, and an endemic fish that has been driven to near extinction due to the value of its organs in China. Comca’ac waters have most of the seagrass and turtles on the Pacific coast of the Americas, but turtles and sharks have been severely overharvested for sale to outsiders. The region is also the northern limit of corals in the Eastern Pacific, whose growth we will accelerate.

TG has gained the confidence of the Comca’ac fishermen by diving with them in Infiernillo and showing them how they could grow the species they harvest much faster, and without the risks of dying from the oil-contaminated air they breathe while diving using air pumps on their boats. We will do research and development projects with the Comca’ac to find the fastest and most effective way to bring these species into highly valuable mariculture using Biorock Technology. They are very eager to see these projects start immediately, but no funding is available.

Indonesia Fishing Communities
GCRA has worked with Indonesian fishing communities for almost 20 years, and we have built around 300 Biorock coral reef restoration projects with our Indonesian students and partners on many islands, around three quarters of all such projects in the entire world.

Our major sites have been in Pemuteran (Bali) and Gili Trawangan (Lombok). When we began there was only around 1% live coral cover on the reef, and the fisheries had collapsed. In 5-10 years GCRA-trained teams had restored their reefs to around 99% live coral cover and built up huge fish populations that restored the fisheries for surrounding communities. These projects have become huge international ecotourism attractions that drive the economies of entire villages, which had been the poorest on their islands, creating a boom in hotels, dive shops, tourism services, and jobs. Our Indonesian teams have built many Biorock projects in Sulawesi, Java, Flores, Sumbawa, and Ambon, and are developing new projects and training local teams in Halmahera and West Papua.

One of our local partners, Yayasan Karang Lestari (Protected Coral Foundation), received many international awards, including the United Nations Equator Award for Community Based Development, and the Special United Nations Development Programme Award for Oceans and Coastal Management. Despite all these international accolades, we have never had one penny of funding from governments or international agencies (except for UNDP funding described in the next section), and the projects and local staff are minimally supported by small donations from tourists.

Pemuteran villagers are very proud of how they restored their fisheries, and want every other fishing village in Indonesia, a nation of 250 million people on 17,000 islands, where 80% of the protein comes from the sea, to do the same. Only 5% of Indonesia’s coral reefs, the largest and most biologically diverse in the world, remain in good condition. In the last year many reefs were devastated by severe storms, massive outbreaks of coral-eating starfish and snails, mud from floods, sewage from humans, wastes from fish farms, and much worse global warming-caused bleaching than that which killed most of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef in early 2016, so our team is now restarting all our efforts.

In Bali more than 95% of the corals on the best reefs died from heat shock, but maintained Biorock reefs had almost complete coral survival! Biorock reefs grew back severely eroded beaches naturally in a few months, and could be used worldwide to restore vanishing shorelines.

We are seeking funds to renovate and expand these projects, not only in Pemuteran, but all across Indonesia, and train the many remote fishing communities that are asking for help, but who have no tourists who can donate small sums.

Vanuatu Fishing Communities
Vanuatu is one of the poorest countries in the Pacific, and its people survived two genocides, from European diseases, and from European and Australian slavers, the so-called “blackbirders”. Nevertheless, the Ni-Vanuatu people have been rated as the happiest in the world by international surveys. TG has a special bond with young Vanuatu people because they greatly admire Jamaican culture, and he is the first Jamaican they have ever met.

All coastal communities fish the coral reefs for food, and they have been so deeply concerned about decline of their coral reefs, even though they are still among the best in the world, that they tried all the conventional methods of coral transplantation, but all failed when water became too hot or muddy, conditions Biorock-grown corals survive.

In June, 2016, the United Nations Development Programme funded the Vanuatu Fisheries Department to hold a Biorock coral reef fisheries restoration training workshop. This was attended by more than 100 people, who built and installed Biorock reefs at three sites near Tanoliu, whose coral reefs were dredged and destroyed by the US military in 1943 for an airport, and have not recovered. Many other villages have requested similar projects.

GCRA feels that Vanuatu is one of the most promising places in the world for reef restoration due to the eagerness of the people to restore their resources. We are seeking support to greatly expand training in Biorock coral reef restoration and mariculture methods to fishing communities across Vanuatu, to set up village cooperatives for giant clam and fish cultivation, and as a base to train people from other Pacific island nations in reef restoration, in particular atoll islanders.

Hotsararie, Hatahobei, Palau
Hotsararie (Helen Reef) is an extremely remote atoll that belongs to the Hatahobei (Tobi) People of Palau. Hatahobei is one of a handful of very remote Southwest Islands, closer to New Guinea, Indonesia, and Philippines than to Palau, whose people speak a completely different language than Palauan. Their islands have no lagoons, no safe anchorages, and hence very little fish resources, so most of the population has been forced to migrate to Palau, where they form a separate community, discriminated against by their neighbors.

The Hatahobei peoples’ only fisheries resource is Hotsararie, a huge remote atoll 80 kilometers away across the richest tuna fisheries in the Pacific, which the Palau government leases out to foreign commercial fleets. Hotsararie has only a single tiny sand bar above water at high tide, which is uninhabitable because there is no groundwater, but it is one of the world’s greatest seabird and turtle nesting sites.

Hotsararie means “Reef of the Giant Clams” because it had the most giant clams of any place in the Pacific, and has the highest coral, fish, and invertebrate diversity of any Pacific reef. Almost all of the giant clams were stolen by foreign industrial fishing fleets, many from Taiwan, because the Hatahobei people could not live there permanently to protect their resources, since they had to sail from Hatahobei to fish and could stay only as long as their water held out.

The only dry land on Hotsararie, the sand bar, is moving sideways at 15 meters a year across the reef flat due to rapid erosion on the west and deposition of sand on the east. A coconut tree planted on the east shore of the island will collapse into the sea on the west shore before it is old enough to bear! The remains of a concrete platform built on the island by Japanese troops in the 1940s sits underwater nearly a kilometer away. If the Hatahobei people lose this sand bar, they will lose control of their entire atoll.

The Hatahobei Governor asked GCRA to grow a solar powered Biorock coral reef to protect Hotsararie from washing away, because they heard of our work growing back beaches naturally and quickly in the Maldives and Indonesia. It took many years to find funding to get there, then we had to wait nearly a year because their only supply boat to carry food from Palau to Hatahobei was broken and in dry dock in the Philippines, so the Hatahobei islanders had no supplies at all for this period, living only from coconuts and fish. When the boat was finally fixed we first had to deliver the rice and betel nuts they were desperate for before going to Hotsararie, where we built a 32 solar panel rack and a Biorock shore protection reef 200 meters long. We were unable to leave due to a Super-typhoon, and when we could finally get out we were down to the last bag of rice.

Unfortunately, we did not have enough time, money, people, or equipment to do the job properly, since we had no electricity we could not weld, so the structure was wired together by hand, and this was not enough to withstand the huge logs smashing across the reef, coming from New Guinea, Indonesia, the Philippines, and even logs of Douglas Fir with characteristic rocks from British Columbia, the opposite side of the Pacific, wedged between the roots. Our solar panels are stored on Hotsararie, but we have no funds to get back there with the materials we need to finish the job, so the island continues to wash away. If we can raise funds we will go back to help the Hatahobei people save Hotsararie.

TG has lived in every single atoll nation: the Maldives, Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Marshall Islands, and all their islands are washing away. Millions of dollars have been spent by foreign aid agencies building sea walls, and every single one has collapsed, many before they finished building them, or soon will. Biorock beach restoration projects at Pulau Ganga, Sulawesi, Indonesia, grew back a 300 meter long beach in months, increasing the height of the beach by about 1.5 meters and the width by about 10 meters. It is the only hope for atoll countries to save themselves from global sea level rise, nothing else works. We hope Hotsararie and Hatahobei will be the first atoll islands to do so.

Jamaica Fishing Communities
Jamaica is the classic case history in reef degradation, even though the causes have been completely misunderstood by foreign researchers. TG spent the first 20 years of his life diving all around Jamaica with his father (the world’s first diving marine scientist) and his brothers, who are the last to remember how the reefs used to be, and is curator of the world’s largest collection of underwater reef photographs from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, taken by his grandfather (the inventor of macro photography, who took the first high quality underwater photographs, in the Bahamas and the Great Barrier Reef) and his father, mostly in Jamaica. A native Jamaican patois speaker, TG has worked with fishermen all around Jamaica to develop the first whole-watershed and coastal zone nutrient management plans, widely copied elsewhere, but never implemented in Jamaica.

Although Biorock coral reef restoration technology was invented and developed in Jamaica by the late Wolf Hilbertz and TG 30 years ago, there are now no projects in Jamaica because every effort to get funding has been blocked by local corruption. We are seeking funding to implement coral reef fisheries restoration projects in Jamaican fishing villages where fisheries have collapsed due to loss of coral reefs, with a particular focus on Little Bay and Bluefields in Westmoreland, and Portland Bight in Clarendon and St. Catherine, Jamaica’s largest and last remaining fish, conch, and lobster nursery habitat. We also seek funds to scan, archive, and post on the web the most important historical collection of old coral reef photographs in the world.

Australia Aboriginals
The Yolngu people of Arnhem Land, North Australia, were the only Aboriginals who never lost their land to the exiled British criminals who committed genocide and then declared that their god had given them an empty land. They fiercely fought Australians trespassing on their lands, who finally decided to leave them alone because they had nothing worth stealing, until rich uranium and aluminum mines were discovered on their lands, which were then seized.

The Dhuwa Yolngu have the oldest creation story in the world, going back more than 50,000 years to the island they came to Australia from, remembering the names and locations of all the places where they lived that were drowned by the sea at the end of the last Ice Age. These histories are remembered in secret chants, songs, and bark paintings.

The Yolngu prefer to avoid modern society and education as a threat to their culture, but the lean fierce warriors of the past are now dying from diabetes caused by white man’s food: white sugar, white flour, white bread, white rice, and white lard, dumped on them by a racist welfare system.
In 1950 TG’s grandfather, who photographed their ancient traditional cultural practices, was adopted as brother to the clan leader of the Dhuwa Yolngu clan whose duty is to preserve these histories, and they recognize that status as hereditary. TG’s family were chosen to be curators of their most sacred and complete bark paintings, and are routinely asked to return for important secret traditional ceremonies that no outsiders have witnessed, but can’t afford to do so.

The Dhuwa bark paintings, describing in secret encoded symbols the lands they have lived in for the past 50,000 years, have been recognized by the Australian Supreme Court as proof of their ownership of their lands, nevertheless they have been denied rights to their seas, even though their records describe all their submerged lands that were drowned by the sea.

The theft of their sea rights has been justified in Australian law by the Magna Carta, which states that any land, which somebody does not have a paper deed proving ownership of, belongs to the Kings of England, and to their successor, the Australian Government, who peddles the rights to Aboriginal waters to local and foreign fishing fleets.

GCRA’s goal is to help the Yolngu regain their sea rights, whose possession is clearly indicated in the bark paintings, songs, and chants, and to scan our family photograph collection of their grandparents’ traditions so they are available to current and future generations.

Torres Straits Islanders
The indigenous people of the Torres Straits, between New Guinea and Australia, largely live from fishing on low lying islands that are being eroded by very strong currents and global sea level rise. Mer Island, at the extreme northern end of the Great Barrier Reef, had the richest and most diverse coral reefs in Australian waters, but were badly affected in 2016 by the severe high temperature bleaching caused by global warming, which was worst in the far north, although Australian surveys stopped short of the Torres Straits.

The Mariam people of Mer Island, the only island in the Torres Straits where the people are farmers, were the first indigenous people in Australia to regain their lost land through a series of classic law suits. TG’s grandfather photographed their traditional cultural practices.

GCRA aims to scan and make available the 1950 photographs to the Mer community, train them in soil fertility restoration methods, and help fishermen in the low lying islands to protect their islands from erosion by global sea level rise restoring their coral reefs.

Philippines Ati
The Ati (Aeta) are the aboriginal people of the Philippines, and have lived there for at least 30,000 years. Called Negritos (little black people) by the Spanish, they have been forced into remote islands or mountains, overwhelmed or marginalized when the ancestors of the Filipinos migrated from Taiwan around 5,000 years ago.

Only one generation ago, the Ati were the only people on the island of Boracay, where they lived by fishing and hunting. When it was realized that Boracay had the finest white sand beaches in the Philippines their land was stolen from them. The Ati still survive in one small village, they have almost no educational opportunities, can’t get jobs, and survive by sending their small children begging on the streets with blank eyed stares and hands out in the hope someone drops a few coins in them so their families can eat.

Their ancient traditional village lands are now claimed by a very rich Filipino who is trying to throw them out of their last refuge so he can build a luxury hotel on it. Their only leader with education was openly murdered by one of his gunmen, and no case was filed against him.

Boracay is a mass tourism destination with all the worst features of greed and over-development, large slums, prostitution, and whenever it rains people have to wade through raw sewage in the streets. The coral reefs are almost entirely dead from sewage. GCRA researchers did the two most detailed water quality and reef health studies all around the island in 1997 and in 2007, and none of our recommendations to clean up the water and restore the reefs were followed.

We have been trying for 10 years to get back to Boracay with funding to work with the Ati community to grow back the coral reefs in front of the last Ati village on Boracay, so that they can manage it as an ecotourism snorkeling reserve and set up mariculture projects. They are eager to do so.

Canada Ihalmiut
The Ihalmiut were the only inland Inuit (Eskimo) people of Arctic Canada, all the rest lived near the shore from the sea. The Ihalmiut lived entirely from caribou and fresh water fish in the tundra Barrenlands. They almost all died from starvation after the fur trade brought in guns, overharvested the caribou, and when the fur trade collapsed, so did the supply of bullets, while their ancient stone-age hunting methods had been lost. The handful of survivors were forcibly evacuated to the coast by the Canadian government, where most died of “broken hearts”.

When they decided to abandon the coast and go back to the tundra to try to resume their traditional life in 1954, they were accompanied by TG’s grandfather, who photographed their traditional cultural practices. Unfortunately, there were too few caribou left to survive, and they were forced back into exile from their lands, which are now melting away due to global warming.

Our goal is to scan the old photographs and make them available to the Ihalmiut community on Hudson Bay. There is only one survivor left who was in the photographs, and she is very old. She is dying to see these photographs, while there is still time for her to comment on who all the people were, and what they were doing. This is a race against time, and we have no resources for the task.

Senegal Cattle Herders
The Fula people are the specialist traditional migratory herders of all of the West Africa Sahel, from Senegal to Cameroon, but are suffering greatly from desertification, so most of their cattle and goats have starved to death, threatening their entire culture and way of life. They wish to preserve their traditions, rather than become farmers like the Mandingo, Wolof, and Serer.

TG, who is descended from Mandingo slaves who left Senegal more than 500 years ago, has worked with the people of Younoufere, a Fula village on the fringes of the Sahara Desert, to develop projects in soil fertility restoration so they can reforest their lands with trees that produce economically valuable products, produce more food for their livestock, generate renewable biomass energy, increase soil carbon resources, and recharge their vanishing groundwater resources.

The Younoufere people know they are degrading their land, but survival gives them no choice unless they can find resources to apply new methods to restore the productivity of their land. They are extremely eager to do so, but have no funding. GCRA will work with them on such projects if we can find money to do so.


Vanuatu Biorock Workshop June 9-18 2016

Vanuatu Biorock Coral Reef Restoration Workshop
Havannah Harbour, Efate, June 9-18 2016

Tom Goreau
Robert Lee
Leah Nimoho
Iman Garae

SUMMARY
More than 100 people attended the First Vanuatu Biorock Coral Reef Restoration Workshop, held June 13-14, and installed the first Vanuatu Biorock projects at three sites in Havannah Harbour, northwest Efate.

Participants included many fishermen from local villages, especialy Tanoliu (Port Havannah), from other communities on Efate, including Tasi Vanua, the North Efate reef monitoring group, community-based environmental protection groups from Nguna and Pele Islands. The Tasi Vanua group members from Nguna and Pele have been trying for several years to restore the coral reefs on those islands using conventional methods, but have been unsuccessful and have been actively seeking a more successful approach. Students from the University of the South Pacific, Ulei Junior Secondary School, and Tanoliu Primary School, members of the Vanuatu Environment Science Society, and interested members of the local community were all in attendance. They received hands-on training in design, construction, installation, monitoring, maintenance, and repair of effective coral reef fisheries habitat restoration projects.

The workshop was taught by Dr. Tom Goreau, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, who has done such projects for nearly 30 years. Dr. Goreau trained the Yayasan Karang Lestari team in Indonesia who won the United Nations Equator Award for Community Based Development and the special UNDP Award for Oceans and Coastal Management at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012.

The workshop was was organized by Robert Lee, a US Peace Corps Volunteer, Leah Nimoho of the United Nations Development Programme Office in Port Vila, Vanuatu, and Iman Garae, Headmaster of the Tanoliu Primary School.

Following a failed coral garden project, Robert Lee, a teacher in the elementary school at Tanoliu (site of the World War II American military base at Port Havannah), researched coral reef restoration, discovered the Biorock method, and found enormous interest in Vanuatu about learning more effective methods.

Leah Nimoho of the Vanuatu UNDP Small Grants Program and Robert Lee worked for two years to seek funding from UNDP to the Vanuatu Fisheries Department to hold a Biorock Training Workshop. Mr. Iman Garae, Headmaster of the Tanoliu Primary School, brilliantly managed local logistic arrangements, including transportation, food, and community participation.

Special thanks also go to Mr. Graham Nimoho and Mr. William Naviti of the Vanuatu Fisheries Department.

Nothing would have happened without all their hard work, persistence, and strong support from Vanuatu environmental organizations and communities. We are grateful to all who participated.

All photos by Robert Lee or Iman Garae

PAST AND PRESENT CONDITION OF VANAUTU CORAL REEFS

Vanuatu coral reefs are among the best in the world in terms of coral live cover, biodiversity, and large size, comparable to the best Indonesian and Palau reefs before the 1998 bleaching. Yet little work has been done on the condition of the coral reefs, and through a serious scientific/political error they were not included in the Coral Triangle Initiative, which includes Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.

In the past the islands were much more densely populated than they are today, and there must have been impacts of land-clearing for agriculture on the coral reefs of these high, wet islands. Almost the entire population died from genocide caused by European diseases, and the survivors were largely wiped out by the European slave trade “blackbirders” who would round up villages at gunpoint and force them into “indentured” labor in Australian sugar cane fields or Pacific coconut plantations. The islands were occupied by French and British colonists, who forced the population to cut down much of the coastal forest for coconut plantations and the people to work at subsistence wages preparing copra. The impacts of this erosion are clearly seen in muddy silted coastal lagoons with dead coral reefs on the south coast.

In 1943 the islands of Efate and Espiritu Santo were suddenly occupied by the US military, who brought in some 150,000 men to build large military bases for bombing, and then invading, the Solomon Islands in order to drive out Japanese troops. In less than one year the islands were transformed and the troops moved on, dumping vast amounts of war material into the sea. Havannah Harbour was the major base on Efate, and most of the fringing reef on the south coast of the harbour was dredged or destroyed for landing crafts and boat traffic. What coral came back was dominated by Porites head corals in shallow water, and Porites branching corals in deeper water. These low biodiversity reefs are typical of those that have been severely stressed by high sedimentation and high temperatures until almost all the other corals have died, leaving Porites as the last survivor. In contrast to these reefs on the south side of Havannah Harbour, those on the north side, as well as those on the open ocean side north of Moso Island, were dominated by Acropora. Porites head and branching corals, which can have very high live coral cover, do not provide the ecological services of biodiversity, fish habitat, and shore protection that the Acropora corals do, producing functionally impaired habitats.

Since most of the steel trash has rusted away, the beaches are distinguished by extraordinary amounts of glass, apparently mostly from millions of Coke bottles drunk by American troops, tossed into the sea, and used for gun target practice. The islands then returned to a coconut plantation economy, which since Independence have been largely replaced by cattle ranches and small farms. There is no industry, and the vast majority of the people are farmers, producing lush tropical crops from the rich soil. The growth of the population over the last 50 years has been very rapid, currently growing by 2.2% per year, causing increased pressure to clear forest land for cultivation, in particular kava, which Vanuatu people are especially fond of.

Following earlier damages by dredging and sedimentation, the growth of the population, and the lack of sewage treatment facilities, have caused weedy algae overgrowth (eutrophication) of reefs near major urban areas, such as Port Vila. In recent years Crown of Thorns outbreaks have killed a lot of coral. New coral diseases, especially White Plague, are starting to have an effect. But in the last year the major cause of coral mortality has become bleaching. Coral bleaching in Vanuatu was predicted in April based on the Satellite Sea Surface Temperature HotSpot data by Tom Goreau. June dives confirmed that Vanuatu was recovering from a major bleaching event. The excess temperature was only around 1 degree C for a month, enough to trigger mass bleaching but not severe coral mortality. Recent coral death at the reefs dived on ranged from low to moderate, with perhaps 20-30% mortality at the most affected sites, much of it partial mortality (usually the tops of the colonies), with lower mortality at sites with high turbidity due to protection from high light stress during high temperature bleaching. At these sites bleaching seemed to be the major cause of coral mortality but most of the corals were gradually regaining their normal colors (see photo below). Since bleaching is the result of global warming, such events will be more frequent in the future.

Vanuatu coastal villagers are all excellent swimmers, are exceptionally aware of the recent decline in their coral reefs, and are unusually worried about these trends. As a result many villages have started their own coral nursery projects, copying the standard methods used around the world, with precisely the same results: almost all the corals died. The international funding agencies that promote such projects never show long-term results for a very good reason! But they never report their failures, because that would prevent getting more money to repeat them! But unlike most, Vanuatu people quickly realized that they needed more advanced methods of reef restoration that increase coral settlement, growth, survival, and resistance to environmental stresses like high temperature, sediments, and nutrients, which only the Biorock method does.

vanuatu-workshop01

A Hawksbill turtle swims over coral reefs on the north shore of Havannah Harbour. Almost all the coral colonies in this photo are slowly recovering their color from bleaching. Photo June 12 2016 by Robert Lee.

 

WORKSHOP RESULTS

A two day-long hands-on training workshop was held at the Havannah Beach and Boat Club, thanks to the permission of the owner, Jonathan Delaney.

Videos were shown of the results of Biorock coral reef restoration projects in Bali, which were awarded the United Nations Equator Award for Community-Based Development, and the special UNDP Award for Oceans and Coastal Management, at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.

A lecture discussed the principles of project design for different purposes, focusing on coral reef fish habitat restoration. The group then built the first two structures, tunnels made from welded steel mat and rebars. Then the group built a large dome.

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Hands-on training.

On the second day the group wired and installed the two tunnels in water about 2 meters deep at low tide on the inside edge of the reef in front of the Havannah Beach and Boat Club, installed the electrode and power source, and turned it on. The event was documented by drone filming done by Marke Lowen of the Vanuatu Museum Film Archive, to be broadcast by the Vanuatu Museum free cable TV channel. Then the group carried the dome to the Havannah Eco Lodge (Gideon’s Landing) and installed it in water about 5 meters deep, wired up the structure and electrode, and laid the cable. The power supply was not available until the following morning, when it was turned on.

The group from Tanoliu, eager to practice and improve their skills, then immediately built another dome, about 2 m high and 4 m wide, which was installed and wired up the following day. Like all the other projects, they worked immediately when connected.vanuatu-workshop05

Biorock dome at the shore of Tanoliu being prepared for installation in the water.

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Celebrating the installation of the dome at Tanoliu, on the bottom near the float.

The Tanoliu group spent a half day being instructed in coral transplantation, focusing first on adding corals to the tunnel structures from local naturally broken coral fragments found on the reef.

Several post workshop follow-through training sessions on coral transplantation were given at Tanoliu with the local team, including Robert Lee, who trained members of Tasi Vanua, a North Efate coral reef monitoring organization, in the methods, and built and installed more structures.

Lectures were also given at the University of the South Pacific on the Future of Coral Reefs, and at the Vanuatu Environment Science Society on the Past, Present, and Future of Vanuatu Coral Reefs. A local newspaper, The Independent, ran a special two page article on the workshop.

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Restoring their villages coral reefs: A day these Tanoliu students will never forget! They’ll come back again and again to see the corals and fish!

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NEXT STEPS

The Training Workshop was Phase I of the project. Once all the expense accounting has been submitted, funding for Phase II will be released by UNDP.

Phase II will be scheduled as soon as possible after the funds are approved to continue the momentum and to build on the enormous enthusiasm which the first workshop generated. The major goals include:

1) Documenting the results of all the pilot projects installed at the first three sites, and assessing them to decide how they could be best improved and expanded.

2) Establishing a local cooperative for sustainable mariculture projects at Tanoliu focusing on culture of giant clams and habitat for groupers.

3) Expanding the projects to new sites around Efate and other islands. Already at least half a dozen groups want similar projects.

4) Making Vanuatu the Pacific leader in coral reef restoration, sustainable marine resource management, and adaptation to climate change.

5) Expanding the UNDP Small Grants Programme to support more community-based marine habitat restoration and management projects in Vanuatu, and in other coral reef subsistence fishing communities around the world.


GCRA: 25 years of cutting-edge coral reef research and restoration

January 22 2016, St. Georges, Grenada.

The Global Coral Reef Alliance was founded 25 years ago as a global voluntary network to do cutting edge research and development on reversing the threats to coral reefs and developing new methods to restore coral reefs, fisheries, mangroves, sea grass, salt marsh, and beaches naturally, working on critical problems that nobody else works on because there is no funding.

26 years ago, as Senior Scientific Affairs Officer for Global Climate Change and Biodiversity issues at the United Nations Centre for Science and Technology for Development, I realized that no group anywhere in the world was focusing on solving fundamental scientific problems related to coral reefs because they were obsessed with doing whatever silly fad of the day that the funding agencies were throwing all their money at.

GCRA invented the method to predict coral bleaching accurately from satellite data 25 years ago and showed then that coral reefs worldwide were the first ecosystem to be seriously damaged by global warming, and that corals could not take any further warming. Governments have deliberately chosen to let coral reefs die for 25 years rather than admit the clear scientific evidence that global warming was already causing severe damage or do anything to reverse it. In the last 25 years we have lost most of the corals, and this year we will lose many more. In the past 25 years GCRA has worked in reefs in most of the small island states of the Caribbean, Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia. They have lost most of their biodiversity, fisheries, shore protection, and tourism resources, and are the first and worst victims of climate change even before their islands are flooded.

GCRA invented the Biorock method for restoring all marine ecosystems and coastal habitats, which is the only method of marine ecosystem restoration that greatly increases settlement, growth, survival, and resistance to environmental stress of all marine organisms, because it directly stimulates the fundamental biophysical mechanism by which all forms of life make their biochemical energy. Biorock technology keeps coral reefs alive when they would die, and restores them, and the beaches behind them, in a few years in places where there is no natural recovery. In the Maldives in 1998 Biorock reefs had 1600% to 5,000% higher coral survival than nearby reefs, and grew back a completely eroded beach in 2-3 years.

GCRA has also done leading research on reversing the effects of pollution on coral reefs, identifying the pathogens causing coral, sponge, and algae diseases, works with indigenous communities to manage and improve their biological resources, and has led global efforts at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for 25 years to reverse global climate change by increasing soil carbon sinks, among many other activities.

The list of activities in 2015 are listed below. Any year of the last 25 would have shown an equally diverse range of projects all over the globe.

After 25 years of non-stop, unpaid, back-breaking labor, we find that the situation of coral reef degradation, and the ignorance of the causes and solutions, have only gotten worse. Vast sums are spent by the funding agencies on nonsensical propaganda about “resilience” in order to avoid political action or funding to directly reduce threats to reefs or actively restoring them. Without active restoration no marine protected area will be able to protect corals or fisheries as global climate change starts to kick in, but no funding agency supports serious restoration, though all fund creating parks that can’t work in the long run.

GCRA gets dozens of critical requests for help for restoration every month from groups all over the world, but we can’t respond to most because we have no endowment, no operating funds, no budget for travel, and no benefactors. Essentially all our small donations are earmarked for specific projects, and most of those are in-kind donations. Had we realized how disastrous funding would be, it would have been insane to have even started! After 25 years GCRA is as poor as when it started, starting our 25th year with only a couple of hundred dollars in our account to support our world wide activities, which is more than I have in my personal account, this work has driven me to destitution.

But it is too late now, the situation is even more critical than ever as the global warming-caused extinction of coral reef ecosystems accelerates, and 2016 could well be the coup de grace for many reefs, with more to follow in the coming years unless the world chooses to take serious and effective action to reverse global warming.

In Paris governments refused to act in time to avert reef extinction, and so effectively condemned them to death. Ironically the world came very close to effective action: on December 1 the French Government proposed that soil carbon be included in the climate change treaty and governments commit to increasing soil carbon to reverse climate change (a proposal I had originally made in the 1980s), but on December 10 the French Government dropped their own proposal in the rush for a political “agreement” that is incapable of meeting its own goals due to fundamental carbon accounting errors that need to be corrected if it is to be effective.

In 2016 we face a critical emergency to build as many Biorock Coral Arks as possible to maintain species populations in areas that will lose them if they bleach severely this year. Since there is no funding to do so, GCRA will continue to work with all local groups in developing countries wherever they can find local support to grow back their marine ecosystem resources, since the international community has left coral reef ecosystems to die.

2015 GCRA ACTIVITIES

GCRA develops new projects in around 10 countries every year, but since we are constantly busy we never have time to keep the web page up to date, so it may seem we are up to nothing! Here is a list of some major projects done in 2015.

1. Indonesia
Indonesia continued to have most Biorock coral reef restoration projects in the world as Indonesian Biorock groups continued to install many new projects in Bali, Lombok, Java, Sulawesi, Ambon, Flores, and Sumbawa, with more constantly under development. Biorock Indonesia PT was formed as the umbrella group for future Biorock projects along with Yayasan Karang Lestari (Protected Coral Foundation, winner of the 2012 UN Equator Award for Community Based Development and the Special UNDP Award for Ocean and Coastal Management), and local partners. Tom Goreau taught the 10th Indonesian Biorock Coral Reef and Fisheries Restoration Training Workshop during the Bali Buleleng Dive Festival. Large, spectacular new projects were installed in Bali and Sulawesi. A Biorock shore protection reef to grow back an eroded beach was designed and installed in Sulawesi, and a similar project was designed in West Papua to be installed next year. An integrated whole-watershed and coastal zone nutrient, water, and soil management plan was drafted to protect the coral reefs of Pemuteran, Bali, from eutrophication, and collaboration with the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center of Udayana University was established.

2. Panama
New Biorock coral reef, sea grass, and mangrove restoration projects were installed at the Galeta Marine Laboratory in collaboration with Dr. Stanley Heckadon of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution. The solar powered Biorock coral reef restoration project at Yandup, Uggupseni, Guna Yala (Autonomous Guna Indian territory) was expanded. This pilot project aims to save Guna islands now being abandoned due to sea level rise. All Panama Caribbean coral reefs underwent severe high temperature coral bleaching in 2015, affecting both Biorock projects. The Galeta Biorock project is located next to a similar unpowered control structure, so comparison of coral mortality and survival on the two structures will allow benefits of Biorock to be determined. We expect Biorock corals will show much higher coral recovery and survival based on results after severe bleaching events in the Maldives, Thailand, and Indonesia. When results are available they will be posted here.

3. Curaçao
The largest Biorock coral restoration project in the Caribbean was installed in Curaçao with Curaçao Divers. The project consists of 7 Biorock reefs linked together on the shelf slope. The corals show excellent growth, and fish populations are building up. The latest reports from Curaçao Divers will be reported here.

4. Saint Barthelemy
The Biorock coral reef restoration project in St. Barthelemy continued to show excellent growth of all four Acropora species (elkhorn, staghorn, and both hybrid varieties), as well as all other coral species, and has created an oasis of coral, fish and plankton in a barren, high wave stress environment. New Biorock coral reef restoration projects to restore deeper coral reefs, and to grow back shallow reefs to cause eroded beach sand to grow back naturally, were planned and approved for installation in 2016.

5. Bahamas
Cutting edge work on the response of sharks to low voltage direct current electrical fields was done in Bimini with Marcella Uchoa and Craig O’Neill. The dramatic results will be reported here when published. The Biorock coral reef and seagrass restoration project in Abaco continues to show excellent coral growth, spectacular seagrass growth, and dense fish populations, and our long term studies of corals killed by algae overgrowth and diseases near golf course nutrient sources continues.

6. Mexico
An environmental assessment for restoration of threatened endemic species in the Sea of Cortez using Biorock mariculture methods, and for development of tidal current energy resources, was done, and approved by the Indigenous Comca’ac (Seri) Indian Ejido of Sonora. Pilot projects should start in early 2016

7. Polynesia
Biorock ecotourism coral restoration projects by Denis Schneider of Espace Bleu have expanded to more hotels in Bora Bora, Raiatea, and Moorea, and research has shown Biorock benefits for giant clams, pearl oysters, and corals. A collaborative proposal for research on effects of Biorock on coral settlement was funded by the French government and will start in early 2016.

8. Spain
Research projects with collaborators at the Plentzia Marine Laboratory of the University of the Basque Country in Spain found electrical fields resulted in greatly increased cell proliferation rates in mussel livers. Biorock minerals grown under different conditions were identified and their chemistry determined. Further research is underway on fundamental biophysical, biochemical, and cellular effects of the Biorock process.

9. United States
Tom Goreau gave talks on climate, soil, water, and temperature interactions at the Conference on Restoring Water Cycles to Reverse Global Warming in Boston, and was active in leading the Soil Carbon Alliance efforts to urge governments to reverse global climate change through increasing soil carbon. The solar-powered Biorock coral reef restoration projects at Lauderdale By The Sea came to the end of their mandated three year monitoring program. The Town terminated all funding for the project and cut off the cables to the solar power buoys the Biorock team had designed and built to remove them. The project was literally cut off from power right during a severe high temperature coral bleaching event, when most needed! The project could easily be powered from a nearby fishing pier, but funding is crucially needed to save it.

10. Cuba
Tom Goreau gave papers on use of wave energy to restore coral reefs and regrow beaches naturally at the Cuban Marine Science Congress, on soil carbon, climate change, and soil fertility restoration at the Cuban Agro-Ecology Conference, and met with coral reef and shore protection colleagues.

11. France
Tom Goreau gave several talks at the Paris UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as a delegate of the Caribbean Community Centre for Climate Change. These talks, in both government delegate areas and the public areas, focused on vulnerability of reefs and coasts to climate change, soil carbon to stabilize CO2 at safe levels, and on restoration of marine ecosystems, fisheries, and coasts.

These materials are summarized in the video links below:

Tom Goreau presentation: Paris COP-21 12/2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Tom Goreau presentation at Paris COP-21 12/2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

12. Other countries
New projects were approved for early 2016 in Italy, Papua, Indonesia, Vanuatu, Maldives, St. Barthelemy, and Saint Martin, and possibly more, while many requests for new projects came from a dozen more countries, but did not move forward due to lack of either funding or permission for serious marine ecosystem restoration.

2016 PRIORITIES

In 2016 GCRA’s top priorities will be the global bleaching crisis caused by record global high temperatures and El Niño, documenting coral survival on bleached Biorock projects, reconnecting old Biorock projects in the Maldives before bleaching hits, starting new Biorock Coral Arks to maintain surviving coral populations in as many places as possible before impacts get worse, starting Biorock shore protection reef projects to grow eroded beaches back naturally in as many places as possible, and starting large-scale Biorock mangrove, sea grass, and salt marsh carbon restoration projects as possible, while continuing to promote soil carbon solutions to reverse global climate change from research, implementation, to global policy stages.

2016 KEY YEAR IN CORAL REEF EXTINCTION FROM GLOBAL WARMING

It is now 25 years since I showed the satellite sea surface temperature data at Al Gore’s US Senate Hearings on Climate Change proving that coral reefs were already being damaged by global warming, and that the threshold for severe coral bleaching was only 1 degree C. In 1992 at the signing of the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro I warned that the treaty would not prevent most corals from dying from high temperatures in the next 20 years. For 25 years governments have simply let the corals die, while denying there were global impacts of high temperature. Now they are mostly gone, and the Paris agreement is too weak to protect them. 2016 will be a record high temperature year, beating the 2015 record according to the UK Met Office. In 2015 severe coral bleaching hit Florida, Hawaii, Cuba, and Panama. It will be crucial to document all bleaching in 2016 in the hope that CO2 can be controlled in time to prevent the complete extinction of coral reefs, which is just barely possible if serious action were to start immediately both building Biorock Coral Arks to maintain temperature resistant populations where possible and reducing future impacts of global warming by increasing soil carbon.

Thomas J. Goreau, PhD
President, Global Coral Reef Alliance
President, Biorock Technology Inc.
Coordinator, Soil Carbon Alliance
Coordinator, United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development Small Island Developing States Partnership in New Sustainable Technologies


2015 GCRA ACTIVITIES

2015 GCRA ACTIVITIES

GCRA develops new projects in around 10 countries every year, but since we are constantly busy we never have time to keep the web page up to date, so it may seem we are up to nothing! Here is a list of some major projects done in 2015.

INDONESIA

Indonesia continued to have most Biorock coral reef restoration projects in the world as Indonesian Biorock groups continued to install many new projects in Bali, Lombok, Java, Sulawesi, Ambon, Flores, and Sumbawa, with more constantly under development. Biorock Indonesia PT was formed as the umbrella group for future Biorock projects along with Yayasan Karang Lestari (Protected Coral Foundation, winner of the 2012 UN Equator Award for Community Based Development and the Special UNDP Award for Ocean and Coastal Management), and local partners. Tom Goreau taught the 10th Indonesian Biorock Coral Reef and Fisheries Restoration Training Workshop during the Bali Buleleng Dive Festival. Large, spectacular new projects were installed in Bali and Sulawesi. A Biorock shore protection reef to grow back an eroded beach was designed and installed in Sulawesi, and a similar project was designed in West Papua to be installed next year. An integrated whole-watershed and coastal zone nutrient, water, and soil management plan was drafted to protect the coral reefs of Pemuteran, Bali, from eutrophication, and collaboration with the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center of Udayana University was established.

PANAMA

New Biorock coral reef, sea grass, and mangrove restoration projects were installed at the Galeta Marine Laboratory in collaboration with Dr. Stanley Heckadon of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution. The solar powered Biorock coral reef restoration project at Yandup, Uggupseni, Guna Yala (Autonomous Guna Indian territory) was expanded. This pilot project aims to save Guna islands now being abandoned due to sea level rise. All Panama Caribbean coral reefs underwent severe high temperature coral bleaching in 2015, affecting both Biorock projects. The Galeta Biorock project is located next to a similar unpowered control structure, so comparison of coral mortality and survival on the two structures will allow benefits of Biorock to be determined. We expect Biorock corals will show much higher coral recovery and survival based on results after severe bleaching events in the Maldives, Thailand, and Indonesia. When results are available they will be posted here.

CURAÇAO

The largest Biorock coral restoration project in the Caribbean was installed in Curaçao with Curaçao Divers. The project consists of 7 Biorock reefs linked together on the shelf slope. The corals show excellent growth, and fish populations are building up. The latest reports from Curaçao Divers will be reported here.

SAINT BARTHELEMY

The Biorock coral reef restoration project in St. Barthelemy continued to show excellent growth of all four Acropora species (elkhorn, staghorn, and both hybrid varieties), as well as all other coral species, and has created an oasis of coral, fish and plankton in a barren, high wave stress environment. New Biorock coral reef restoration projects to restore deeper coral reefs, and to grow back shallow reefs to cause eroded beach sand to grow back naturally, were planned and approved for installation in 2016.

BAHAMAS

Cutting edge work on the response of sharks to low voltage direct current electrical fields was done in Bimini with Marcella Uchoa and Craig O’Neill. The dramatic results will be reported here when published. The Biorock coral reef and seagrass restoration project in Abaco continues to show excellent coral growth, spectacular seagrass growth, and dense fish populations, and our long term studies of corals killed by algae overgrowth and diseases near golf course nutrient sources continues.

MEXICO

An environmental assessment for restoration of threatened endemic species in the Sea of Cortez using Biorock mariculture methods, and for development of tidal current energy resources, was done, and approved by the Indigenous Comca’ac (Seri) Indian Ejido of Sonora. Pilot projects should start in early 2016

POLYNESIA

Biorock ecotourism coral restoration projects by Denis Schneider of Espace Bleu have expanded to more hotels in Bora Bora, Raiatea, and Moorea, and research has shown Biorock benefits for giant clams, pearl oysters, and corals. A collaborative proposal for research on effects of Biorock on coral settlement was funded by the French government and will start in early 2016.

SPAIN

Research projects with collaborators at the Plentzia Marine Laboratory of the University of the Basque Country in Spain found electrical fields resulted in greatly increased cell proliferation rates in mussel livers. Biorock minerals grown under different conditions were identified and their chemistry determined. Further research is underway on fundamental biophysical, biochemical, and cellular effects of the Biorock process.

UNITED STATES

Tom Goreau gave talks on climate, soil, water, and temperature interactions at the Conference on Restoring Water Cycles to Reverse Global Warming in Boston, and was active in leading the Soil Carbon Alliance efforts to urge governments to reverse global climate change through increasing soil carbon. The solar-powered Biorock coral reef restoration projects at Lauderdale By The Sea came to the end of their mandated three year monitoring program. The Town terminated all funding for the project and cut off the cables to the solar power buoys the Biorock team had designed and built to remove them. The project was literally cut off from power right during a severe high temperature coral bleaching event, when most needed! The project could easily be powered from a nearby fishing pier, but funding is crucially needed to save it.

CUBA

Tom Goreau gave papers on use of wave energy to restore coral reefs and regrow beaches naturally at the Cuban Marine Science Congress, on soil carbon, climate change, and soil fertility restoration at the Cuban Agro-Ecology Conference, and met with coral reef and shore protection colleagues.

FRANCE

Tom Goreau gave several talks at the Paris UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as a delegate of the Caribbean Community Centre for Climate Change. These talks, in both government delegate areas and the public areas, focused on vulnerability of reefs and coasts to climate change, soil carbon to stabilize CO2 at safe levels, and on restoration of marine ecosystems, fisheries, and coasts.

These materials are summarized in the video links below:

http://www.globalcoral.org/tom-goreau-presentation-paris-cop-21-122015-united-nations-framework-convention-on-climate-change/

http://www.globalcoral.org/tom-goreau-presentation-at-paris-cop-21-122015-united-nations-framework-convention-on-climate-change/

http://www.globalcoral.org/after-paris-decade-of-soil-organic-carbon-to-reverse-climate-change-and-save-coral-reefs/

OTHER COUNTRIES

New projects were approved for early 2016 in Italy, Papua, Indonesia, Vanuatu, and Saint Martin, and possibly more, while many requests for new projects came from a dozen more countries, but did not move forward due to lack of either funding or permission for serious marine ecosystem restoration.

2016 PRIORITIES

In 2016 GCRA’s top priorities will be the global bleaching crisis caused by record global high temperatures and El Niño, documenting coral survival on bleached Biorock projects, reconnecting old Biorock projects in the Maldives before bleaching hits, starting new Biorock Coral Arks to maintain surviving coral populations in as many places as possible before impacts get worse, starting Biorock shore protection reef projects to grow eroded beaches back naturally in as many places as possible, and starting large-scale Biorock mangrove, sea grass, and salt marsh carbon restoration projects as possible, while continuing to promote soil carbon solutions to reverse global climate change from research, implementation, to global policy stages.

2016 KEY YEAR IN CORAL REEF EXTINCTION FROM GLOBAL WARMING

It is now 25 years since I showed the satellite sea surface temperature data at Al Gore’s US Senate Hearings on Climate Change proving that coral reefs were already being damaged by global warming, and that the threshold for severe coral bleaching was only 1 degree C. In 1992 at the signing of the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro I warned that the treaty would not prevent most corals from dying from high temperatures in the next 20 years. For 25 years governments have simply let the corals die, while denying there were global impacts of high temperature. Now they are mostly gone, and the Paris agreement is too weak to protect them. 2016 will be a record high temperature year, beating the 2015 record according to the UK Met Office. In 2015 severe coral bleaching hit Florida, Hawaii, Cuba, and Panama. It will be crucial to document all bleaching in 2016 in the hope that CO2 can be controlled in time to prevent the complete extinction of coral reefs, which is just possible if serious action were to start immediately both building Biorock Coral Arks to maintain temperature resistant populations where possible and reducing future impacts of global warming by increasing soil carbon.

Thomas J. Goreau, PhD, President, Global Coral Reef Alliance