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    Sun Resorts and the Scientific Research Project on Beach Erosion in Mauritius

    November 16 2018

    Mauritius is the picture of tropical paradise; lush, jungle-like surrounds, dreamlike luxury resorts and hotels, silky-soft golden beaches and beautiful aquamarine waters that sparkle in the sunshine—there are few places on earth as magnificent as this unique destination. But as the world changes and is impacted by certain climate challenges, it’s important that all of us do our part to ensure that this magical oasis is able to thrive so it will continue to be a stunning destination for future generations to enjoy.
    It’s this very notion that spurred Sun Resorts to get involved with a collaborative research project, along with the University of Mauritius (UOM) and the University of Western Australia, that has recently been launched. Here’s what you need to know about this immensely important initiative called the Scientific Research Project on Beach Erosion:

    The Scientific Research Project on Beach Erosion will take place on the west coast 
    The incredible new initiative spearheaded by Sun Resorts, UOM and the University of Western Australia, will be conducted along Mauritius’ gorgeous west coast with the actual research base being at Sun Resorts’ very own La Pirogue. The study, that will span over three years, hopes to bring a better understanding of the current state of the reef-lagoon ecosystem as well as how it’s being impacted by climate change. 

    The project kicked off on 14 November 2018
    On 14 November 2018, the Scientific Research Project on Beach Erosion was launched at La Pirogue. Some very important guests were in attendance at the launch of this unprecedented initiative, including Natacha Morris, Second Deputy High Commissioner of Australia, Prof. Sid Nair Executive Director of TEC,  Dr Andrew Pomeroy from the University of Western Australia, Dr Bissessur, General Manager of the Beach Authority and Nadeem Nazurally, a lecturer at the University of Mauritius.



    The instruments necessary for the study have been placed at Flic-en-Flac beach and are designed to monitor the water temperature, waves and currents on a daily basis. In 2019, an experiment will be conducted using state-of-the-art oceanographic equipment used in coral reef research to conduct a detailed assessment of how this particular reef-lagoon system works. A coral growth trial will also be introduced in 2019. 

    The concern for the reefs—and the beach erosion—in Mauritius (and the world) was the catalyst for this project

    Reefs such as those that surround the lagoon at Flic-en-Flac, play a very important role (or roles). They serve as vital sources of nutrients and they provide shelter for various marine creatures at all stages of their lives. Additionally, they act as important filters, that help to ease the effect of waves and currents (that come from the deep sea) on the coastline. Healthy reefs ensure that the waves and currents that reach the shoreline don’t erode them, unhealthy reefs are less effective. Last, but certainly not least, reefs also play an important role in tourism for many destinations. 

    Like many small islands states, Mauritius’ coral reef ecosystems and coastlines have started to feel the effects of climate challenges. The reality is that coastal erosion is fast becoming one of the greatest problems facing reef-fringed coastlines. Not only is this affecting businesses that depend on the reefs but the community’s view on the state of the environment. It is also costing a considerable amount of money, which is often used to focus on specific areas at a time which often causes knock-on effects elsewhere in the reef-lagoon system. If these systems are to be preserved, it’s vital that answers and solutions are found. This is what the aim of this project is, which promises to be relevant both in Mauritius and globally. 

    It hopes to have some clear outcomes
    There are three main objectives for this initiative. Firstly, it aims to understand what state the Flic-en-Flac reef-lagoon ecosystem is in. The UOM will conduct an assessment of biodiversity of the reef and lagoon to better give insight into its status, but also to show how it varies from season to season and year to year. During this assessment, new methods will be introduced in order to cultivate corals, to see how the reef and lagoon can support them but also to add to the overall health of the ecosystem. 
    Secondly, the project will determine how waves and currents are affected by the reef, how they move through it and how these waves shape the coastline (through erosion and the movement of the sand, which is not well understood at this point). The effect of the waves and currents will be measured in two phases; first by historical shoreline changes using aerial and satellite data and by measuring the position of the shoreline and to see how it is effected from one season to the next over time. 
    Lastly, the effect of waves and currents (as well as the movement of sediments) on the growth of new corals will be monitored, so that the coral-growing efforts can be maximised and given the greatest chance of success with regards to the long-term health of the ecosystem. 

    It has been fully funded by the Tertiary Education Commission
    The world over environmental affairs and climate challenges are demanding greater attention. Thankfully, this very necessary initiative has been backed by the Tertiary Education Commission’s Interdisciplinary and Inter-Institutional Team-Based Research Program, who has decided to fund it in full. This means that a grant of 5 million rupees has been allocated to support this undertaking. 

    The public will be able to glean insight into the project
    While this initiative serves as a wonderful opportunity for students to participate in and learn from, there is also a strong desire for the local community to better understand the reef system, the challenges it faces and the importance of it. That’s why there will also be a number of public forums that will welcome and educate the local community on the reef system so that they can understand what is going on and ask questions on the situation.  


    It displays the power of international collaboration
    This incredible initiative showcases the power of international collaboration that will have a positive impact on Mauritius as well as the greater global community. Here we see how academia (the Australian and Mauritian researchers) and the private sector (Sun Resorts who are providing some invaluable logistical support) can work together towards a mutual goal that could have a hugely positive effect on the environment. This is especially fitting for two countries that serve as co-champions within the Commonwealth Blue Charter on Coral Reef Restoration.

    Sun Resorts constantly looks for innovative ways to be greener
    This wonderful initiative is not the only project Sun Resorts partakes in. In fact, they are hugely dedicated to finding more sustainable practices in their hotels—from reusable glass water bottles and recycling initiatives to endemic gardens, solar energy panels and Suncare programmes, Sun Resorts is committed to finding better, more sustainable ways to move into the future and they hope to inspire their guests and other hotels to do the same.  

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