Aitutaki Reef-Keepers (ARK) is a capacity building education platform that teaches students how to enhance marine ecosystems through citizen science. Capacity is extended by engaging students in fun, hands-on yet effective marine-related enhancement activities such as planting live coral and juvenile giant clams directly onto lagoon reefs.
Throughout the process, students learn marketable professional skills and how to associate environmental health with quality of life, particularly public health and economic opportunities. The platform also teaches students how to engage in knowledge transfers via social media and face-to-face communications with local and regional Pacific-Asia communities and with other environmental restoration initiatives.
In essence, ARK builds capacity to shift from the present resource consumption-based economy to a sustainable knowledge-based economy. This strategy can be leveraged or modified to meet an array of unique community and regional requirements. A summary of benefits specific to the 2016 ARK programme include:
A tested method for effectively engaging student and tourist populations to participate in restoring or enhancing marine ecosystems (citizen science)
Increased student professional experience and skill sets
Quantifying project effects on marine ecosystems, socio-economic quality of life and public health
Facilitating changes in human behaviours associated with environmental impact
Highlighting the benefits associated with sustainable harvesting of resources
A reduction in fishery costs related to stock scarcity
Greater access to seafood as a source of nutrition
A template for knowledge transfer to other ecosystem restoration initiatives
Expanding Aitutaki’s reputation on the world stage as a progressive conservation and ecotourism destination.
For further information about the parent Reef-Keepers programme, contact Charley Waters at www.cwaters.net. Have fun!