Conservation of biodiversity, seagrass ecosystems and their services – safeguarding food security and resilience in vulnerable coastal communities in a changing climate
As of: January 2022
Seagrass is an essential food source for dugongs and other marine wildlife and provides key ecosystem services (e.g. fisheries productivity and carbon sequestration). Seagrass ecosystems are declining globally due to pressure from coastal development, fishing and boating, pollution and climate change. Information on the status of seagrass ecosystems and the services that they provide is lacking. The project contributes to reducing these knowledge gaps by engaging local NGOs and communities in the conservation of seagrass. NGOs are trained in participatory science to enable them to collect data and identify key seagrass areas. This information is then used to engage communities and decision makers in developing policies for seagrass conservation. In parallel, the project implements alternative business models in coastal communities to improve livelihoods and contribute funds for seagrass conservation. This enhances the sustainability of seagrass ecosystems in the Indo-Pacific.
State of implementation/results
- A project website, the Dugong and Seagrass Hub, was completed and went live in March 2021 (www.dugongseagrass.org). Dedicated social media were created in support of the website on Twitter (twitter.com/…), Instagram (www.instagram.com/…) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/…).
- Two articles on the project were published in the November 2020 issue of the Sirenews newsletter (mission.cmaquarium.org/…).
- The project employs research methods (e.g. Seagrass-Watch and the Standardized Dugong Catch/Bycatch Questionnaire) that can be implemented by local communities in the five sites. All National Partners have completed their Dugong Catch/Bycatch Questionnaire Training remotely, and data collection was completed in Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. Additional scientific training will be delivered remotely by the technical partners starting in 2021.
- The national partners continue to engage with local communities and political partners in all five countries using diverse approaches including community field meetings and online awareness raising events.
- The project team continues to develop business models integrating seagrass ecosystem services, including homestays, spirulina aquaculture, and a blue carbon credit scheme, which can provide an additional source of revenue to sustain conservation actions taken by local communities. The implementation of business models is ongoing in Indonesia, Thailand and Timor-Leste, and started in Malaysia in March 2021.