Launch of Coastal Protection Project

Officials - TNC's Nealla Frederick, German Ambassador Lutz Gorgens, Hon. Emmalin Pierre and GFC's Tyrone Buckmire, prepare to "lay" the first rock.

Officials – TNC’s Nealla Frederick, German Ambassador Lutz Gorgens, Hon. Emmalin Pierre and GFC’s Tyrone Buckmire, prepare to “lay” the first rock.

Government leaders, local communities and local organisations last Thursday officially launched an innovative project on Telescope Beach aimed at strengthening Grenada’s ability to withstand climate change impacts.

Grenville Bay’s shoreline has been severely eroded due to the degradation of the existing natural reef and increased storm intensity.

In the coming weeks, four unique, reef-like breakwater structures will be installed that will be the first of a larger array expected to dissipate wave energy reaching the shore and reduce coastal erosion and flooding in the Telescope Beach area.

The structures will also have the added benefit of ultimately providing important fish and coral habitat.

The installation is made possible through a generous contribution by the German Federal Foreign Office and is part of the larger At the Water’s Edge (AWE) climate change resilience initiative coordinated by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in collaboration with the Government of Grenada, Grenada Fund for Conservation (GFC), Grenada Red Cross Society, St. Andrew’s Development Organisation and local community groups in Grenville.

The structures have been designed so that they can be fabricated and installed using local labour and equipment.

The Grenada commercial dive operator, Underwater Solutions, will be overseeing the installation and has hired local divers from Grenville area for the project.

Local welders have been busy over the past month fabricating 270 wire “baskets” that will be filled with rocks or concrete blocks and then stacked and secured together to form the underwater structures that are designed to reduce wave energy and encourage coral re-growth.

Executive Officer of Grenada Fund for Conservation, Inc, Tyrone Buckmire who is associated with the project said he is looking forward to the support of persons at the community level to the initiative.

“It has been a wonderful thing to see the community eagerly participate in the various activities undertaken over the last three years under the AWE initiative. We would not be where we are in Grenville without them. We expect the same for the reef installation”, he said.

Baskets filled with rocks and concrete bricks, which will form the new reef structure

Baskets filled with rocks and concrete bricks, which will form the new reef structure

The installation of the pilot reef structures is estimated to take three weeks, depending upon the weather and sea conditions.

Scientists from The Nature Conservancy will be on site to support the entire process as part of the organisation’s global efforts to find solutions to climate change that include ecological engineering and community engagement.

These innovative activities in Grenville Bay are considered to potentially be a global model for testing nature-based solutions to climate change.

Grenada’s AWE initiative has been active for the past three years and is working to strengthen the ability of coastal communities to adapt to the world’s changing climate and impacts such as rising sea levels, increased coastal erosion and flooding, degraded coral reef health, and changes in fisheries resources.

The approach of the AWE project is to further demonstrate the effectiveness of community – and nature-based approaches for climate change adaptation in small island states.

According to Ruth Blyther, Program Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Eastern Caribbean Division, “Every year millions of dollars are spent around the world on putting in place man-made structures like sea walls to avoid loss of our coastal infrastructure and beaches.

She noted that coral reefs, even re-built ones, can provide a cost effective alternative for coastal protection.

She labeled them as “our living sea walls: when healthy they can protect us from storms, support our tourism economy and provide us with fish and sand for our beaches”.

The AWE initiative is also working with GFC, SADO and the Forestry Department to conduct some short-term actions in the Telescope area that include mangrove and coastal re-vegetation projects.

In the coming months, AWE will also continue to work with Grenada Red Cross Society and NADMA, as well as begin the development of a community resilience plan with stakeholders from the Grenville Bay area.

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