Preserving the Reefs in Raja Ampat
Trees to Seas funds projects focused on the vitally important, nearly intact Bird’s Head Seascape of West Papua, Indonesia. We are trying to preserve the reefs, working with NGOs like Conservation International, the local Indonesian government, and an informal group of locals and people who come to Raja Ampat to help. Our own Dr. Phil Dustan, a world-renowned marine biologist and reef specialist who was the science advisor to The Cousteau Society and most recently helped shape, and was featured in the film, “Chasing Coral,” is guiding the effort.
Some huge threats have been stopped in Raja Ampat to get to where it is today. The area’s economy pivoted away from shark finning, bomb fishing, and mineral extraction to eco-tourism, principally SCUBA diving. But with increased tourism has come new threats. Poor anchoring practices, reef damage from poorly trained and improperly supervised divers, and most important, a flood of nutrients bleeding into the water from the septic systems of resorts, Homestays, and Liveaboards.
Dr. Dustan has documented the beginning of the classic coral diseases that helped destroy beautiful Caribbean and Florida reefs, and that also have led to an explosion of Crown of Thorn’s (COTS), which consume coral at an unprecedented rate.
In May of 2019, Dr. Dustan gave a seminar at NOAA which explains why Raja Ampat is so important, why it is at risk, and why we must act. The video of that seminar can be accessed by clicking the video above.
In March of 2019, two volunteers – one from Washington DC and one from Boca Raton, Florida – carried five large bags carrying 45 set of masks, snorkels and fins and other dive gear – to Raja Ampat to help locals deal with COTS eradication. The masks, fins and snorkels – which are far beyond the ability of local West Papuans to buy – were needed. Extra bag fees totaling $1,300 were waived by Cathay Pacific and Garuda Indonesia. The pictures and videos of that effort can be seen here.
On June 24, 2019, the Washington Post featured the effort in this article. In response, at least 30 more donation offers have been made from Florida, New York, the Washington DC area, Chicago, and from Germany.
We need to continue the momentum. The future is not hard to predict, unless something is done, and done quickly.
We need your funds and your donations to help with the COTS eradication, and with other critical efforts.
To donate equipment, download the file below and fill in what equipment you will be sending. You can save a copy for your tax receipts and then email the form to firstname.lastname@example.org.