Hope Reef, the start of the world's largest coral reef restoration programme, has been unveiled off the coast of Sulawesi, Indonesia, spearheaded by cat food brand Sheba. The reef, which can be seen on Google Earth, has been built to spell the word H-O-P-E and is a symbol to show the world how positive change can happen within our lifetime.
Scientists estimate that if the world does nothing, 90 percent of the world’s tropical reefs will be gone by 2043, impacting nearly 500 million people who depend on them for food, income and coastal protection. The effort to solve this requires global cooperation on a massive scale and Sheba hopes to play the role of catalyst, helping to ensure the future has coral reefs and fish.
While the unveiling of Hope Reef takes place today, its restoration began two years ago. Since then, coral cover has increased from 5 to 55 percent, fish abundance has increased and we have seen the return of species such as sharks and turtles. By the end of 2029, SHEBA’s ambition is to restore more than 185,000 square metres of coral reef at sites around the world – roughly the size of 148 Olympic swimming pools.
Viewers who watch the SHEBA Hope Reef story, The Film That Grows Coral on YouTube will help raise money for reef restoration. With every view, the advertising money generated is invested into coral reef restoration through campaign partner, The Nature Conservancy. This is the first time ever that 100 percent of the funds from a YouTube channel have been monetized for sustainability efforts.
Providing a simple but effective solution, Hope Reef uses innovative ‘Reef Star’ technology – 90cm-wide, star-shaped, steel structures that are handmade by the local community in Indonesia. Each star is joined underwater to create a strong web that covers the seabed and provides a stable base for coral fragments to regrow.
Professor David Smith, Chief Marine Scientist at Mars Inc., said: “We’re thrilled to unveil Hope Reef and show that there really is hope for our oceans. Our efforts around the world to restore and regenerate these precious ecosystems are showing exciting results and having a positive impact on local communities, which we’re delighted to see. We hope our efforts inspire others to join us so we can all play our part in helping to prevent the extinction of our coral reefs.”
Dr. Elizabeth McLeod, The Nature Conservancy’s Global Reef Systems Lead, said: “Coral reefs are the heart of our oceans, supporting over a quarter of marine life. Reefs also supply millions of people worldwide with food, livelihoods, life-saving medicines, and protection against storms. It’s imperative that we scale up our work to protect and restore the long-term health of these vital ecosystems, as well as addressing the threats that have caused their decline and building their resilience to a changing climate.”
Since 2008, Sheba’s parent company, Mars, Incorporated, has invested more than $10m in research, restoration and community engagement as part of its coral reef program. In addition, the company has invested $1 billion to drive action for the protection and restoration of the planet and those who inhabit it through its Sustainable In A Generation Plan.
Tracey Massey, Global President of Mars Pet Nutrition, said: “This is a symbol of hope – hope for the future of our oceans and the start of a movement to restore these vital ecosystems. The Nature Conservancy and our other long-standing partners on coral restoration around the world ensure a promising start to drive further action, acting as catalyst to inspire others and help create a healthy, thriving planet for both people and pets.”