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4 years after tsunami: Corals stage comeback

unities have moved away from destructive fishing and have even begun transplanting corals to recover damaged areas.

For example, Dodent Mahyiddin, a dive operator on Weh Island, leads an effort to transplant corals onto hand-laid underwater structures to restore a badly damaged reef in front of the remains of his dive shop, which was also destroyed by the tsunami. Already he is seeing widespread colonization of young corals.

On a larger scale, the WCS team is working to establish community-based coral reef protected areas based on customary marine laws that were first established in the 1600's and maintained throughout Dutch colonial rule. The laws empower local communities to manage their own local marine resources rather than adhere to nationalized protected areas.

Healthy coral reefs are economic engines for Acehnese communities, according to WCS, supplying commercially valuable food fish as well as tourism dollars from recreational diving.

"The recovery, which is in part due to improved management and the direct assistance of local people, gives enormous hope that coral reefs in this remote region can return to their previous condition and provide local communities with the resources they need to prosper," said Dr. Campbell. "The recovery process will be enhanced by management that encourages sustainable uses of these ecosystems and the protection of critical habitats and species to help this process."

The study area is adjacent to the "Coral Triangle," a massive region containing 75 percent of the world's coral species shared by Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste.

The region is estimated to generate more than $2 billion per year in revenues and supports more than 120 million people dependent on its resources for food security and employment. The "Coral Triangle Initiative," an effort to save the region's reefs and contribute to s

Contact: Stephen Sautner
Wildlife Conservation Society

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