Since 2018, the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) has been partnering with the Palau Visitors Authority (PVA) and Koror State Government (KSG) on a coral planting project called the Coral Reef Rehabilitation (CRRP). CRRP is a collaboration that brings these three entities together, with two main goals: to rehabilitate the coral reefs in the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon (RISL) World Heritage Site, and to raise awareness about the importance of coral reefs while promoting their protection and conservation.
The program combines the strengths of the three agencies. PICRC, with an accumulated experience of 20 years in coral reef research, will provide training on the planting, maintaining, and monitoring of corals. PVA will provide the marketing strategy to educate visitors and locals alike, on the importance of coral reefs, while encouraging them to be active participants in the creation of a “Pristine Paradise Palau.” Koror State, which for years has been the safeguard for much of Palau’s beautiful, productive, and resilient reefs, will house the corals in their state waters, as well as provide the human resources needed to accomplish the project.
One of the first steps of the CRRP in 2018 was to complete surveys of potential sites to plant the coral. Six different sites in Koror were examined, looking at factors like suitability of the seafloor layout, presence of fish, and the possibility of algae and crown-of-thorns outbreaks. Although all of the examined locations showed potential, Ngerchong Garden was selected as the first pilot site.
This year, PICRC completed a proposal, outlining the next steps of the project. This document outlines the actions needed to construct and deploy the structures that will act as coral nurseries at designated sites in Koror State. Grown corals from these sites will then be planted in areas, such as Ngerchong Garden, that have been damaged from natural events, like typhoons or coral bleaching. One of the envisioned activities of the project is for PVA and Koror State to start a community-based environmental awareness program that will provide several educational packages for residents and visitors to Palau. PICRC will be providing the training on how to plant, maintain, and monitor coral in the designated areas.
Palau is world famous for having coral that is full of biodiversity, as well as being resistant to climate change. Most tourists are encouraged only to admire them from afar when they go diving or snorkeling. The Coral Reef Rehabilitation Project will empower visitors to make a lasting contribution to Palau’s beautiful coral reefs, which will continue to have benefits to local ecosystems long after they have left. While the work so far has focused on Koror State waters, the process would be similar for other states interested in growing corals.

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