Yaf Keru Reef Restoration 

Raja Ampat’s reefs have supported human life from the moment the first people arrived in the region, thousands of years ago.  Today, these reefs continue to support life and livelihoods for local communities, whose future relies heavily upon a continued state of reef health.

From an ecological and economic perspective, Raja Ampat’s reefs are also of significant worldwide value and influence. However, in the face of historical threats such as dynamite and cyanide fishing (which has left large tracts of reefs destroyed, without the ability to recover unaided), existing global threats from climate change, and emerging threats from rapid and unsustainable development locally, Raja Ampat’s reefs and the communities they support face an uncertain future.

 

“Rebirth” – The story of Yaf Keru, by Feroxed

Yaf Keru (which means ‘coral garden’ in Bahasa Biak, a predominant local Papuan language) began in Raja Ampat as a pilot project conducted in 2016.  After a 3 year pilot phase which demonstrated the feasibility of community-based reef restoration, we now aim to extend the Yaf Keru approach to other areas of Raja Ampat.  Our goal is to further upscale this program in order to achieve its full potential in terms of ecological impact and environmental advocacy, and as a means to provide environmentally positive livelihoods to local people.

Yaf Keru Reef Restoration Raja Ampat The SEA People, structure at 1 month old

3D reef structure 1 month after transplanting corals.

Yaf Keru Reef Restoration Raja Ampat The SEA People, structure at 29 months old

3D reef structure 29 month after transplanting corals.

Why We Need Reef Restoration 

For many, Raja Ampat could be considered a modern success story with respect to conservation. Over the past decade, strong collaborations between governments, local communities and NGOs have permitted the establishment of an important network of MPAs covering almost a third of the Archipelago. Thanks to these efforts, practices such as dynamite fishing and industrial shark finning activities have almost been entirely eradicated.

Yet some challenges remain, and new challenges have emerged that require immediate attention in order to limit their environmental impact including;

  • Substrate Stabilisation
  • Rapid Tourism/Diving Development
  • Coral Degradation through trampling and kicking
  • Anchor Damage and Boat Strike
  • Plastic pollution and waste water runoff
  • Crown of Thorns Starfish
  • see Reefs at Risk for further details

Yaf Keru is addressing these issues by involving local communities and other stakeholder groups in the sustainable management of local resources.

Yaf Keru is addressing these issues by involving local communities and other stakeholder groups in the sustainable management of local resources.

Objectives

The-Lost-Seahorse-Film-Raja-Ampat
The-Lost-Seahorse-Film-Raja-Ampat
The-Lost-Seahorse-Film-Raja-Ampat
Yaf Keru Reef Restoration Raja Ampat The SEA People Orang Laut
Yaf Keru Reef Restoration Raja Ampat The SEA People Orang Laut

The Tip of the Iceberg

Whilst reef restoration can have a significant ecological output, it also provides both a socio-economic and socio-cultural lift to local community. At The SEA People, we use Yaf Keru as much more than simply an exercise in “transplanting coral”, but as a means to improve several fundamental aspects of people’s livelihoods, which in turn can contribute to improved sustainability, management and conservation of the fragile balance between our human societies and the coral reefs on which we depend upon.

Our Approach

The SEA People adopts the following principles throughout all stages of reef restoration, in order to maximize the full potential and ensure the sustainability of our reef restoration projects;

Understanding that coral reef restoration is not a short-term fix for coral reef decline;

The SEA People are accutely aware that the restoration of ecosystems are interventions that must be planned and funded as long term strategies (over 10-20 years).

Incorporating socio-economic considerations as a fundamental part of all stages of the reef restoration process;

The SEA People believe it is crucial to engage and empower various stakeholders throughout all stages of reef restoration efforts in order to build long-term relationships and deepen engagement and support;

Ensuring that all coral reef restoration efforts integrate ecological processes beyond planting corals;

The SEA People ensure that all reef restoration effortsdisplay the structural complexity of a natural reef, ensuring that functional groups (other than hard corals, ie: sponges, fish grazers, soft corals, algae) also find their place within the restored area.  One way to ensure this, is to take into account the ecological connectivity of restored areas with other reefs located nearby. 

Staying connected to and aware of the rapidly evolving field of coral reef restoration;

By continually monitoring, evaluating and adapting projects, methods and strategies, The SEA People is currently developing a monitoring scheme adapted to it’s final scale which is in line with CRC recommmendations. 

Integration of all coral reef restoration efforts into broader reef management strategies;

The SEA People aim to facilitate action and behaviours that reduce anthropogenic stressors upon coral reefs as part of a broad environmental management strategy, in order to improve the environmental conditions necessary for successful reef restoration.  To achieve this, The SEA People create alternative livelihoods, provide culturally appropriate and targeted awareness campaigns (tourists, local community members and tourism operators), and conduct reef restoration in areas previously impacted by dynamite fishing, that cannot recover unaided, and also threaten other areas of healthy reef. 

Incorporating the future impacts of climate into the planning and design phase of coral reef restoration efforts;

The SEA People use a permaculture approach which aims to integrate ecological functions (structure, stabilisation, water filtration, etc) in the process of deciding which species to transplant.

We believe that combining this with a multi-specific approach is the best means by which to achieve a high level of complexity and redundancy of ecosystem functions as a means to improve the resistance and resilience of the entire ecosystem to climate drift.

Selecting reef restoration methods that account for cost-effectiveness and scalability, and that are appropriate for the local context;

At The SEA People we are aware, and continually learning of the multiple ways that reef restoration activities can be conducted.  However, not all are suitable within the local context in Raja Ampat, in terms of practicality, durability, and simplicity of material sourcing; all of which influences the success and sustainability of a reef restoration project over the long term.  The methods we adopt, are those which at this time, are most suitable to the local environment in which we operate.

 

The Story So Far

Throughout the pilot phase of Yaf Keru, the SEA People have conducted 4 small scale projects at 4 key areas throughout the Dampier Strait (two villages, resort and local learning centre) , restored 1450sqm of degraded area, protected 1750sqm of primary reef, transplanted +14k coral fragments, and trained 14 local community members as ‘Coral Gardeners’.

To learn more about the Story So Far, please check the following links or watch the videos below.

Yaf Keru – Pilot Phase
Yaf Keru – Sawandarek
Yafe Keru – Yenbuba
Yaf Keru – Sawangrai, Child Aid Papua

Yaf Keru Reef Restoration Raja Ampat The SEA People, structure at 1 month old

3D reef structure 1 month after transplanting corals.

Yaf Keru Reef Restoration Raja Ampat The SEA People, structure at 29 months old

3D reef structure 29 month after transplanting corals.

Yaf Keru Reef Restoration: 1 month  vs 29 months

Yaf Keru Reef Restoration – from rubble to abundance

Yaf Keru Yenbuba: Community based Reef Restoration

“Rebirth” – Reef Restoration in Raja Ampat

By FEROXED – Naturally Wild Films