In Grenada, youth and fishermen from two local communities play a critical role in the restoration of coral reefs. These ‘Community Coral Gardeners’ form part of an innovative ecosystem-based adaptation strategy that was designed and tested to determine the viability of active restoration efforts and stronger management for national reef recovery.
Grenada’s coral reef restoration programme was launched in 2015 amid growing recognition of the significant contributions made by well-functioning coral reefs to coastal protection. Since then, it has also helped strengthen an awareness and deeper understanding of the intrinsic link between coral reefs and the national economy at the institutional and community levels. This has been impactful particularly in relation to how different sectors support and maintain two other key sectors – tourism and fisheries. These sectors account for a significant proportion of jobs in the country and provide subsistence for the indigenous population.
Coral reefs, like other coastal and marine ecosystems, are therefore invaluable to the economic and socio-cultural wellbeing of many tropical Small Island Developing States like Grenada. The quality of these ecosystem services, though, is dependent on the condition of the ecosystems themselves.
Healthy ecosystems have high levels of biological diversity and a corresponding mix of ecosystem services, built off the relationships and interactions among the organisms and their environments. In addition, robust ecosystems are better able to adapt to- and cope with- changing conditions. Unfortunately, with increasing pressures due to climate change and exacerbated by anthropogenic factors like overfishing and plastic pollution, these ecosystems are becoming severely degraded or destroyed, putting both human lives and livelihoods at risk.
Local efforts to restore the biodiversity of coastal and marine resources, as seen with the reef restoration programme and other initiatives, illustrate that countries like Grenada understand the urgency and necessity of biodiversity conservation and ecosystem health towards environmental sustainability.
Kerricia Hobson is a native of Grenada, she is currently managing an innovative pilot coastal ecosystem-based adaptation project. She has been integral in the design and implementation of a coral reef restoration programme that encourages multi-stakeholder partnerships for ecosystems management. Kerricia is also the national coordinator of the Grenada Chapter of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network.