Aither is working with the World Bank and project partners to assist Seychelles develop strategies for large-scale coral reef restoration to improve coastal resilience. In close collaboration with our project partners BMT, UniSey Blue Economy Research Institute, Marine Conservation Society Seychelles, WiseOceans and University of Queensland, Aither is providing economics, business case and financing advice to support this significant project.

This project builds on prior work in Seychelles, and internationally, on innovative business models and financing mechanisms (such as the Seychelles Debt-for-Nature Swap and Quintana Roo reef insurance) to support conservation and the restoration of critical ecosystems. This engagement aligns with Aither’s vision to inspire and enable positive change in the management of natural resources – this high impact project will support positive outcomes for ecosystems and communities, locally and globally.

Coral reefs provide important ecosystem services and are under threat globally from climate change and other anthropogenic pressures. In Seychelles, coral reefs provide coastal protection, habitat for a range of marine species and in turn support the tourism and fisheries industries, which constitute a large proportion of Seychelles’ economy. However, in the Seychelles over 90 percent of coral reefs have been lost as a result of significant bleaching events and the coastal plateaus, which host 90 per cent of the total population and associated critical infrastructure, are under threat.

The Government and NGOs in Seychelles have already successfully implemented coral restoration projects. However, scaling up these small-scale successes to provide effective risk reduction to Seychelles’ coastal communities and economy would benefit from a large-scale coordinated approach. This project seeks to understand the feasibility for a national scale strategy for coral reef restoration.

The project identified 15 priority sites across the three main islands of Seychelles where coral reef restoration is feasible and will provide coastal resilience and biodiversity outcomes. An initial business case focussed on these 15 priority sites identified that a national strategy is feasible and will provide a range of benefits to the Seychelles’ community, government, tourism and other businesses as well as the protection of ecosystems that sequester carbon. The feasibility of the business case depends upon the use of a variety of restoration techniques (such as hybrid artificial reef structures), the use of an innovative governance and finance structure, and significant coordination and engagement with stakeholders throughout Seychelles to implement the strategy.

The project has established a foundation on which to further build and refine the national strategy for the coral reef restoration. The next steps for the project are being identified in collaboration with stakeholders and the Government of Seychelles.

“Coral reefs represent one of the most important natural infrastructures in Seychelles because they are a first line of defence against coastal flooding and erosion. However, over 90 percent of coral reefs have been lost as a result of coral bleaching.”