Mauritius Hosts a Regional Training Workshop to Strengthen Coral Restoration Efforts in the Face of Climate Change

About 30 coral restoration actors from Mauritius, Rodrigues and Seychelles are participating in the 9-day workshop organized under the Regional Coral Restoration project for Mauritius and Seychelles coordinated by UNDP.

June 18, 2024
Regional Coral Restoration Training Workshop in Mauritius, June 2024
UNDP Mauritius and Seychelles / Jean-Yan Norbert


A 9-day regional training workshop was officially kickstarted on 18 June 2024 in Mauritius to bolster coral reef restoration in the Republics of Mauritius and Seychelles. Part of the Regional Coral Restoration Project coordinated by UNDP Mauritius and Seychelles, the regional training workshop brings together stakeholders from Mauritius, Rodrigues, and Seychelles, offering a comprehensive curriculum to strengthen marine ecosystem management and restoration by using bioinformatics to determine coral resilience and genetic connectivity in these islands of the Indian Ocean. Participants of the workshop will also be introduced to physical oceanography surveys including includes current pattern surveys, beach profiling, and habitat mapping, critical for coral restoration. The regional training workshop will be lead by Representatives from Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausane.

While opening the workshop, Dr Daniel Marie, Officer in Charge of the Mauritius Oceanographic Institute, stated that workshop aligns with the ongoing efforts of the Mauritius Oceanographic Institute and its partners since 2007, as well as current initiatives, to mitigate the effects of climate change on our marine ecosystem.

Jean Lindsay Azie, UNDP Mauritius and Seychelles Environment Unit Team Leader, highlighted the particular relevance of leveraging innovative restoration techniques and tools now to inform effective coral reef management as both Mauritius and Seychelles have reported signs of the current global bleaching event.



Workshop Focus: Bridging Knowledge Gaps

During the workshop, the participants will delve into advanced environmental genetics, learning to handle and analyze genetic data pertinent to coral species. Working sessions will include training and discussion on the identification of coral species, characterizing population structures, and evaluating coral population connectivity – crucial steps for effective conservation and restoration planning.

A key aspect of the workshop will be the use of R programming tailored for environmental genetics. Coral restoration actors from Mauritius, Rodrigues and Seychelles will be trained to identify genetic evolution signatures and adaptations to environmental changes, enabling them to create predictive heat adaptation maps. These maps are of significant importance for proactive conservation strategies, particularly amidst escalating climate change impacts such as rise in sea water temperatures resulting in coral bleaching.

This project exemplifies the importance of collaboration between stakeholders to address the unique challenges faced by SIDS. The support and collaboration among our partners over the region are critical as we navigate these challenges and strive to protect our natural heritage for future generations.



Practical Training with Cutting-edge Technology

The workshop will also emphasize hands-on training with physical oceanography survey equipment such as CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth), ECM (Environmental Coastal Monitoring), and DWTR (Deep Water Temperature Recorder). Participants will learn and enhance their understanding of the entire process from setting up and deploying these tools to retrieving them and analyzing the collected data relevant to marine ecosystem restoration and management. This practical experience will be complemented by Python scripting sessions for data download, sorting, pre-processing, and analysis.

Geographic Information System (GIS) training will also be an important component of the workshop. Participants will engage in practical sessions using QGIS, a geographic information system software, for data processing and analysis, learning to generate conservation-relevant outputs. The integration of GIS and Python allows for the creation of detailed maps and models that support effective conservation planning and decision-making.



The Regional Coral Restoration Project: A Collaborative and Multi-pronged Approach to Reef Restoration in the Indian Ocean

Funded by a USD 9 million grant from the Adaptation Fund and spanning six years, the project aims to fortify the resilience of marine ecosystems and the communities that depend on them in Mauritius and Seychelles by leveraging thermal resilient coral species in restoration efforts. The Coral Restoration Project is strategically divided into three components:

  1. Mauritius: The focus is on enhancing food security and reducing the risks posed by natural disasters through reef restoration efforts in Blue Bay Marine Park, Grand Port Fishing Reserve (GPFR), and the South-East Marine Protected Area (SEMPA).

  2. Seychelles: Similar objectives are targeted in the Curieuse Marine National Park, Cousin Island Special Reserve, Ste Anne Marine National Park, and Anse Forbans, where reef restoration is crucial for sustaining local biodiversity and safeguarding coastal communities.

  3. Knowledge Management: This component aims to foster regional capacity for sustainable reef restoration by facilitating knowledge sharing, training, and community sensitization.

By equipping stakeholders with advanced tools and techniques, the workshop organized under the regional UNDP project aims to empower them to apply environmental genetics and modern conservation strategies to coral reef ecosystems. This capacity-building effort is expected to have far-reaching benefits, enabling participants to generate meaningful conservation outputs and maps, ultimately enhancing the resilience and sustainability of these vital marine environments. The benefits of this initiative extend beyond biodiversity protection, helping secure the livelihoods of communities that rely on these critical marine life, ensuring a socio-economic prosperity amongst populations of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of Mauritius and Seychelles.