Communities that rely on reefs for sustenance and livelihoods are particularly keen on protecting their reef related resources, yet often lack the skills to provide effective management. The Republic of the Maldives is a prime example of such a country. As an island nation in the Indian Ocean-Arabian Sea consisting of 1,192 islands and 26 atolls, the Maldives recognizes the importance of conserving its resources and has begun working towards the development of effective coral protection and restoration efforts.

AECOM conducted one of the largest coral restoration (16 hectares) and transplantation feasibility studies worldwide for the expansion and development of Malé’s Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.

With input of local islanders for economic benefits and safety, experts technically evaluated potential sites and the feasibility of suitable coral transplantation and restoration techniques under local oceanographic conditions. The study considered major risk scenarios, including tsunamis, cyclones, rise in temperature, and potential bleaching of corals. Economic development included involving the local population for laboratory analysis, restoration and transplantation construction components, actual transplantation work and monitoring. Project costing and regulatory compliance with legal/government requirements as per the Environmental Protection Agency were also detailed.

Three lagoons were identified as optimal for transplantation and restoration work based on the study’s technical and social considerations (anthropogenic activities, light penetration, current and tides, availability of locally hired resources, etc.). Undersea sites were inspected by divers and snorkelers and AECOM spoke with local councils to ensure stakeholder involvement.

For its work in restoring coral habitat in the Maldives, AECOM received a Business Achievement Award from the Environmental Business Journal.

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