- Huawei and IUCN Tech4Nature initiative announces new phase of coral reef protection project
FLACQ, Mauritius, June 26, 2023/PRNewswire/ -- Huawei Mauritius, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the EcoMode Society today announced a new phase of the Tech4NatureMauritius project to study the reproductive success of species in a restored area of reefs in Mauritius.
The new phase follows directly on a key project milestone achieved in June, in which partners, supported by the local community, successfully transplanted 25,000 nursery-grown coral fragments into a degraded area of the Pointe-aux-Reef ecosystem. Feuilles, a 20 km2 site off the eastern coast of Mauritius. This project is one of the first of its kind in the western Indian Ocean.
"I commend the achievement of the Tech4Nature initiative. Our goal is that by 2030 we can work together for a healthy ocean that sustains nature and people," said the Honorable Sudheer Maudhoo, Minister for Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Mauritius Navigation. "With the support of the Tech4Nature initiative, Huawei and its partners look forward to further action to restore ocean and coastal biodiversity for future generations."
To monitor the mobility of species in the coral reef restoration site and determine the factors that disturb reproductive success, a solution has been deployed that includes GPS, 4G and cloud cameras and receivers. The second phase of the project will use AI-based data analytics to guide conservation decisions, support research by marine biologists, and educate the public about the importance of reef conservation and restoration.
"The project will help us make more information available to manage and regulate public use," said Nadeem Nazurally, President of the EcoMode Society. "It will also bring biodiversity conservation closer to the general public, as it is planned to disseminate videos and other outreach materials through the mobile application. In collaboration with IUCN and Huawei, the project allows us to take a qualitative leap by incorporating new technologies to the monitoring and conservation of species".
The 243 km2 lagoon created by the 150 km fringing coral reef system supports a rich variety of aquatic life, including 61 species of macroalgae, 110 species of corals, 132 species of fish and many endemic species. However, the reef system faces many threats, including overfishing, pollution, and change in seawater composition due to removal of mangroves and seagrass. Climate change has caused a rise in sea level, more extreme storms and an increase in sea temperatures. Coral reef restoration efforts can increase resilience to climate change by protecting coastal regions from erosion and mitigating sea level rise.
As a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), Mauritius is highly dependent on its coral reef resources, especially its fishing and tourism industries: tourism accounts for around 8% of the island nation's GDP and 10% of its employment. Coral aquaculture to repair degraded reefs has gained ground in Mauritius, with microfragmentation a relatively new technique, in which small coral fragments are assembled in off-site nurseries using concrete blocks, galvanized structures and natural basalt rocks to promote coral growth.
Early checks at the restoration site have shown an increase in local biodiversity, and a further 1,890 coral fragments are currently being propagated in the nursery to expand the restoration area. With the designation of the site as a Voluntary Marine Conservation Area (VMCA), the drive to revitalize the biodiversity of the reef ecosystem using the power of technology and partnerships is accelerating.
"Collaboration between public institutions and the private sector is increasingly needed to determine success in the face of complex environmental challenges," said James Hardcastle, Head of IUCN's Protected and Conserved Areas Team. "We have the opportunity to take advantage of technological innovations and incorporate them into conservation measures for our ecosystems. This project exemplifies how cooperation and integration are the way forward to stop the loss of biodiversity."
"This project is the first of its kind that we invest in Mauritius, after dozens of successful experiences developing solutions to protect different species and natural spaces in countries around the world using advanced technologies such as cloud, AI and connectivity" said Zheng Kui, CEO of Huawei Mauritius. "The role of the technology industry in meeting this challenge is key, but only through collaboration with strategic and committed partners can the objectives be truly achieved."
It is hoped that this project can be replicated in other areas of Mauritius and balance the needs of tourism and conservation. And with up to 50% of the world's coral reefs already destroyed or degraded, the project's success to date demonstrates the value of further large-scale global reef restoration supported by digital technology.
About Huawei TECH4ALL
TECH4ALL is Huawei's long-term digital inclusion initiative that aims to leave no one behind in the digital world. It focuses on four areas: enabling equity and quality of education, conserving nature with technology, enabling inclusive health and development.
For more information, please visit the website https://www.huawei.com/en/tech4all
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