The Folkestone Marine Park and Reserve has joined forces with the University of the West Indies (UWI) to spearhead a coral reef restoration project.

This collaboration was announced on Wednesday during the Holetown-based park’s Open Day event, commemorating World Environment Day celebrated on June 5 and World Oceans Day marked on June 8.

Providing insights into the budding partnership, Acting General Manager of Folkestone Carlos Gilkes shared that the plan was pitched to him just last week.

“We were approached by the University of West Indies to help them with their efforts by placing a coral nursery here at Folkestone,” he said.

“The belief is that some of our reefs are so degraded that we need now to get some outplanting done so that we will retain the ecosystem services – ecosystem services such as retention of sand, so that beaches aren’t eroded, and nurseries for small fishes so they can develop and we’ll have more for our fisheries.”

Gilkes described the initiative as a “good undertaking” and stated a desire to further develop the plan.

“We see Folkestone as a pivotal part of this undertaking and managing the only marine protected area of Barbados, we need ‘feel good’ factors like these to resonate with us,” he said.

The acting manager also discussed the focus on Acropora palmata, or Elkhorn coral, noting, “If we can replicate the growth rate of that in the environment here at Folkestone, then we could goin to outplant some of the fragments in different areas, so that these same ecosystem services can be done in other locations.”

The Open Day at Folkstone showcased a range of activities aimed at engaging and educating the public about marine conservation.

Laketa Ward, Folkestone Marine Park’s acting secretary and lead organiser of the event told Barbados TODAY that the day of activities – which included free access to the museum, glass bottom boat rides, and musical performances – was a way to give back to the society.

“To celebrate World Environment [Day] and [World] Ocean Day, we decided to give people a chance to experience our offerings for free,” she said. (SM)