News and Facts
The ceramic corals of El Nido
They look like snowflakes, feel like a ceramic plate, and are crucial in recruiting back life into the protected waters of El Nido.
These are the EcoReefs, the world's first artificial reef designed to rehabilitate damaged corals. One hundred modules of these were initially installed last April 1 near Tres Marias in El Nido, Palawan.
The EcoReefs are made of ceramic stoneware that is ideal for the settlement of corals and other invertebrates. Unlike sunken ships or tires, they are pH neutral and do not leach toxins. They also shorten the recovery time of damaged reefs to around 7-15 years compared to cement blocks that experience slower coral surface-growth. In fact, Eco Reefs are designed to break and collapse once the real corals grow stronger and takeover the structure.
Tres Marias are three among many limestone cliffs that magnificently jut out of the tranquil seascape of El Nido's Bacuit Bay. They also stand witness to the countless dynamite fishing that indiscriminately decimates the valuable reefs of El Nido.
Fish populations have been declining and coral reefs are ailing due to destructive fishing methods in the area. This alarming situation encouraged the El Nido Foundation and Seacology to revive El Nido's sea floor with an ambitious artificial reef installation and coral transplantation project.
"Seacology donated the EcoReefs to the people of El Nido through the El Nido Foundation's Coral Reef Restoration and Education Program," said the foundation's director Irma Marcelo.
According to her, the grant's information and education component will hopefully encourage the youth of El Nido to actively take part in taking care of their reefs. The EcoReefs installation also aims to jump-start stakeholder involvement in various efforts at conserving El Nido's coastal and marine resources since 70% of El Nido's populace depend on the coast for their food source and livelihood.
The EcoReefs were first introduced and funded by Seacology at the Bunaken National Marine Park in Indonesia. Seacology is appropriately the world's only NGO with the primary goal of protecting islands.
"In the last 400 years, the majority of the world's plant and animal extinctions have taken place on islands," said Duane Silverstein, Executive Director of Seacology.
"This may be because these islands are used to being free from outside disruptions. The introduction of new species, new practices and sudden human pressures makes it harder for local species to adjust and adapt."
WWF-Philippines also participated in the planning, preparation and installation of the modules. The global conservation organization is also taking the helm in monitoring and evaluating the rehabilitation.
"After all the modules are in place, we will check after a few months if the structures are still intact and if these along with the coral transplantation, has influenced the increase of fish presence," RJ de la Calzada, WWF head of the El Nido Marine Environmental Protection Project.
"The impact of the project will take about three years to evaluate, but the overwhelming support from all stakeholders hints that this may get a successful turnout," he added.
WWF is also involved in helping the municipal government and the Protected Area Management Board in strengthening enforcement efforts, especially in Tres Marias. This area will soon be declared a Core Zone or No Take Zone to augment the reef rehabilitation project.
"We are expecting tougher patrolling efforts from the AFP, PNP, PAO and even fisherfolks so we can effectively measure the effect of the project without disturbances," according to de la Calzada
El Nido is the lucky second to partake in this revolutionary EcoReefs technology. Another 530 modules will be mounted this May, which will cover a total area of 1300 square meters.
El Nido is speckled with 45 limestone islands that harbour a rich biodiversity beyond compare. About 16 species of birds perch at its beaches or limestone forests. Four species of sea turtles and the endangered dugong navigate through Bacuit's aquamarine waters. And about 197 colorful and economically significant species of fish thrive among its 100 species of corals.
For more information please contact:
+63 2 9207923 or 26
Irma Rose Marcelo
El Nido Foundation
+63 3 6871799
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Page last updated: 11 April 2006
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