Putting the LID on stormwater runoff

algae and sediment pollution on beach near reef Maui

From a conservation point of view, we don’t often think of coral reefs going hand in hand with construction and development. But they do—coral reefs attract tourists, and with tourism comes infrastructure. Coral reefs also provide benefits to communities, and people tend to concentrate in areas where they can reap those benefits. Over the years coral reefs along Maui’s West coast have fallen victim to this cycle. As more houses, hotels, roads, and other infrastructure projects are created, more and more rainwater runs off into the ocean, bringing with it nutrients and sediment that are harmful to the reefs. Earlier this summer we partnered with the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui (SLIM) to hold a six-week course for West Maui’s landscapers, landowners, and accommodations industry professionals to address this issue. The course taught them about various low impact design (LID) principles they could implement in landscape and … [Read more...]

Photos Informing Conservation

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More than a quarter of coral reefs around the world are in a protected area—yet, according to Reefs at Risk Revisited, most of those protected areas aren’t being effectively managed. Much of our work is focused on helping communities develop successful management programs so they can create and enforce local regulations that will really benefit their coral reefs. And the first step is often to design a management plan. We’ve known for a long time that for a management plan to be successful, it has to be built around local resources, traditions, and customs. So naturally, our first step in working with a community is always to learn as much as we can about the area and really understand the dynamics and relationships. Next we help them gather and compile information about their environments, cultures, and lifestyles. This is what we’ve been doing in Bali, where communities have created seven marine protected areas on the north … [Read more...]

Namena is a Source of Life, and Not Just Marine Life

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One of my favorite things about working for CORAL is hearing about the direct impacts we have on local communities and people’s lives. It’s not every day that you hear about conservation efforts that have enhanced people’s lives, and it’s such a powerful thing to know that communities can really thrive and benefit from protecting their natural resources. So when I hear about how our work translates into benefits for local communities, it warms me from the inside out. I had one of those moments recently when speaking with Juliane Diamond, one of our program managers. She was in Fiji last month, and attended a stakeholders meeting for the Namena Marine Reserve. The meeting was held by the Kubulau Resource Management Committee (KRMC), a local NGO we’re working with to protect the Reserve. Juliane was there along with about twenty other people—a mix of community members, dive operators, KRMC members, local authority figures, and … [Read more...]

Last Line of Defense

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After writing about West Maui for over five years as CORAL’s grants manager, I finally had the opportunity to visit the island on a recent vacation. I got to see first-hand how West Maui’s hotels and resorts are literally the last line of defense for adjacent coral reefs. Driving the North Loop Coastline Road Hwy 30, you are feet away from the ocean; as you approach Lahaina, resorts grow in size and grandeur, hugging every inch of land to maximize beach access. One of the highlights of driving this road—for the inner CORAL-geek in me—was seeing several of our Respecting Coral Reefs signs. Not only was there one at the hotel I was staying at, but I also saw signs at many of the beaches I visited or drove by. CORAL has helped install more than 50 of these signs throughout the Hawaiian Islands, educating snorkelers and beachgoers about the many types of coral and marine life they may encounter and providing tips on how to enjoy the reefs … [Read more...]

It’s All About the Ahupua’a

Hawai'i Field Managers Erica Perez (left) and Wes Crile (right) talk about the threats to Puako's coral reefs with Conservation Programs Director Jason Vasquez

One of the things I love most about our staff at the Coral Reef Alliance is that we all share the same passion for coral reefs. So for those of us in our headquarters office in Oakland, California, it’s always a treat when we get to travel to our field sites and see the reefs we work so hard to save. I recently had a chance to travel to Hawai‘i with a few others from headquarters and meet with our field team there. Much of our week-long visit was focused around a single question: what do we need to do in the next five years in order to save coral reefs in Hawai‘i? On the surface, it sounds simple enough. We know that coastal pollution is a primary threat to reefs in Hawai‘i. So as long as we can reduce the amount of runoff entering the marine environment, we should be good, right? It’s once we actually started delving in to that answer, and the process and needs started to unravel, that I realized just how complicated the … [Read more...]

Making a Splash with Microgrants

Sophia Anner, CORAL Intern

By Sophia Anner, CORAL Intern and student at Albany High School As a student in the Environmental Design, Science, Engineering, and Technology (EDSET) program at Albany High School in Albany, California, I get to take courses with an emphasis on the environment, as well as intern with an environmental organization. I chose CORAL because I have always been interested in the ocean, especially as a child, and I thought learning about coral reefs would be especially intriguing since I previously didn’t have much knowledge about them. This semester, I’ve been researching CORAL’s microgrant program. I first compiled all of the archived information that existed on the microgrants they’ve handed out and sorted them by location. I then analyzed the data and wrote up a final report showing which categories of microgrants received the most grant money and how that money was used. Since 1995, CORAL has given out 96 microgrants to 17 … [Read more...]