WIO-Ridge to Reef: An Ecosystem Based Approach to Biodiversity Conservation in the Western Indian Ocean

WIO-Ridge to Reef: An Ecosystem Based Approach to Biodiversity Conservation in the Western Indian Ocean

WIO-R2R is a project set up to inform land sea management framework in seven basins in 5 countries in the Western Indian Ocean region, including Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, and Mauritius.

The continuing degradation of coastal-marine ecosystems has serious consequences on the livelihoods of millions of people who currently depend on them. While climate change is considered the most serious risk to the blue carbon ecosystems, land-sourced pollutions are increasingly becoming a key threat in many regions of the tropical world. This project, termed WIO-Ridge to Reef (WIO-R2R), aims to address the problem of land-sourced pollution on near coastal ecosystems (coral reefs, seagrass, and mangroves) using an adaptive management based framework commonly referred to as Ridge to Reef (R2R). The R2R land-sea management framework will focus on reducing land-source pollution and maintaining a sustainable regime of sediment and nutrients discharge.

The project will achieve this by equipping stakeholders with necessary tools for developing integrated solutions for alleviating pressures on nearshore marine ecosystems, and threats to livelihoods that emanate from land-use change.  WIO-R2R will focus on building knowledge and understanding of resource and ecosystem dynamics and feed this knowledge into adaptive management practices, supporting the development of flexible institutions and multilevel governance systems, and enhancing the capacity of coastal managers to deal with external perturbations and change in the catchments and coastal ecosystems. We will achieve these broad goals using four objectives.

Firstly, the project will generate knowledge on sediment transfer from catchments to adjacent near-shore areas. We will apply scenario based catchment modelling to (a) determine the critical source areas (areas contributing most of the pollutants in a watershed) and the amount of river-borne sediment and nutrients reaching coral reefs under different land-use and climate scenarios; and (b) spatially test the effectiveness of spatially explicit land-use management actions at reducing pollution.

Secondly, we will generate knowledge on impact pathways of sediment and nutrient pollution on coral reefs. We will investigate the sediment trail on near-shore marine areas using Earth Observation and field methods, and evaluate the impacts of sediment and nutrient exposure on coral and seagrass cover, fish biomass and on mangroves.

Thirdly, we will assess the extent to which current catchment and coastal management regimes are able to transfer knowledge generated under objectives 1 and 2 to develop adaptive capacity. We will assess the adaptive capacity of the catchment governance regime, and use these to identify important shortfalls and potentials for adaptive capacity enhancement.

Finally, we will assess trade-offs between agriculture, grazing, fisheries, conservation, and livelihoods, for prioritization of management actions using knowledge generated from the three objectives and the systematic conservation-planning approaches to identify the most cost-effective management actions and priority areas for management intervention to maximize threat reduction to key coastal biodiversity and the associated livelihoods.

If you are interested in partnering to collaborate with us or to support any of the activities that contribute to achieving the objectives of this project and reef to ridge outcomes in general, or if you are a student interested in finding out more about the project, please email to joseph.mbui@mq.edu.au

Project Goal

WIO-R2R will inform the adaptive and integrated land-sea management on spatially explicit actions necessary to achieve a strategic outcome of reducing sediment and nutrient delivery to the sea and maintaining a healthy hydrological regime on mangroves. To achieve this, the consortium will work with relevant authorities and stakeholders to address the above information gaps and to develop an integrated solution to alleviate the impacts of land conversion on coral reefs and mangroves. Using the information generated, the project will identify areas of high conservation priority on land and sea where management actions that maximize threat reduction to coral reefs and mangroves should be applied.

Project Objectives

Objective 1: To generate knowledge on material transfer from watersheds to the near-shore coral reef, seagrass and mangrove areas in selected basins

Objective 2: To generate knowledge on impact pathways of sediment and nutrient pollution on coral reefs.

Objective 3: Enhance institutional adaptive capacity for catchment and coastal management

Objective 4: Assess trade-offs between agriculture, conservation, fisheries management, and livelihoods, for prioritization of management actions.


Peer-reviewed publications

A guide to modelling priorities for managing land-based impacts on coastal ecosystems Brown, C. J., Jupiter, S. D., Albert, S., Anthony, K. R. N., Hamilton, R. J., Fredston-Hermann, A., Halpern, B. S., Lin, H. Y., Maina, J., Mangubhai, S., Mumby, P. J., Possingham, H. P., Saunders, M. I., Tulloch, V. J. D., Wenger, A. & Klein, C. J., 27 Dec 2018, In : Journal of Applied Ecology. 11 p.

Patterns of forest loss in one of Africa's last remaining wilderness areas: Niassa national reserve (northern Mozambique) Allan, J. R., Grossmann, F., Craig, R., Nelson, A., Maina, J., Flower, K., Bampton, J., Deffontaines, J. B., Miguel, C., Araquechande, B. & Watson, J. E. M., 1 Nov 2017, In : Parks. 23, 2, p. 39-50 11 p.

Tracing the influence of land-use change on water quality and coral reefs using a Bayesian model Brown, C. J., Jupiter, S. D., Albert, S., Klein, C. J., Mangubhai, S., Maina, J. M., Mumby, P., Olley, J., Stewart-Koster, B., Tulloch, V. & Wenger, A., 2017, In : Scientific Reports. 7, p. 1-10 10 p., 4740.

Human deforestation outweighs future climate change impacts of sedimentation on coral reefs Maina, J., De Moel, H., Zinke, J., Madin, J., McClanahan, T. & Vermaat, J. E., 2013, In : Nature Communications. 4, p. 1-7 7 p., 1986.

Linking coral river runoff proxies with climate variability, hydrology and land-use in Madagascar catchments Maina, J., de Moel, H., Vermaat, J. E., Henrich Bruggemann, J., Guillaume, M. M. M., Grove, C. A., Madin, J. S., Mertz-Kraus, R. & Zinke, J., Oct 2012, In : Marine Pollution Bulletin. 64, 10, p. 2047-2059 13 p.

Spatial linkages between coral proxies of terrestrial runoff across a large embayment in Madagascar Grove, C. A., Zinke, J., Scheufen, T., Maina, J., Epping, E., Boer, W., Randriamanantsoa, B. & Brummer, G. J. A., 2012, In : Biogeosciences. 9, 8, p. 3063-3081 19 p.

Improving conservation outcomes for coral reefs affected by future oil palm development in Papua New Guinea Tulloch, V. J. D., Brown, C. J., Possingham, H. P., Jupiter, S. D., Maina, J. M. & Klein, C., 1 Nov 2016, In : Biological Conservation. 203, p. 43-54 12 p.


Encouraging Green Agricultural Development in the SAGCOT Region of Tanzania Members of the SNAPP/SAGCOT Working Group


The Conversation - https://theconversation.com/manage-the-land-to-protect-the-reefs-15076

HDR Students

Pascal Z Thoya - PhD candidate (Cotutelle) Macquarie University and University of Hamburg

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