The Tun Mustapha Park (Malaysia) and Derawan Islands Marine Protected Area (Indonesia) in the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion have been approved by the EU Steering Committee as critical areas for coral restoration, selected for their high biodiversity conservation value and significant economic contribution to local communities as well as regional and global markets. Despite challenges posed by movement restrictions and park closures due to the global pandemic, restoration plans are being drafted and are being reviewed for implementation after several rounds of close (often virtual) consultations with national and local stakeholders.

Together with Malaysia’s Sabah Parks and Indonesia’s Marine and Fisheries Agency of East Kalimantan, restoration approaches that are new to these sites will be deployed, including using rockpile and metal frames. Other planned activities include awareness raising, stakeholder engagement through public and private partnerships, and behaviour change to reduce threats. The later will be achieved by strengthening the inclusion and involvement of local communities and local businesses (e.g. tour operators, dive shops, hotels, etc.) to enhance long-term protection of their natural resources.

As we kickstart the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration and the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development in 2021, the EU Ocean Governance Project is supporting a science-based approach in ecosystem restoration based on twin pillars of socio-economic and ecological criteria and goals. Together with scientists and expert practitioners, the park managers and communities from TMP and Derawan Islands will learn various methods for coral restoration, share lessons learned and provide case studies that can help replication and scaling of restoration success.