Reef Resilience Network Support
In 2013, Jennifer attended a Reef Resilience Training held in Zanzibar to connect with other coral reef managers working in the Western Indian Ocean and learn about their regional challenges and management practices. She also attended the training to enhance her communication and facilitation skills to build stronger working relationships with local dive operators.
As part of the training, Jennifer participated and completed a four-month long online course on reef resilience concepts. During the online course, Jennifer worked with coral reef experts and Reef Resilience mentors to develop a coral bleaching response plan for South Africa. However, while drafting the bleaching response plan, she found there was an insufficient amount of data on the Park's coral reef ecosystems and redirected her efforts towards developing a reef resilience monitoring methodology. This lead to the creation of the iSimangaliso Reef Resilience Program, which aims to document long-term trends of how reefs within the Park are changing spatially and temporally and to determine the most resilient sites within the SCUBA-dived areas. With the continued support and feedback from coral reef experts and mentors, Jennifer developed a monitoring methodology for the Park that is relatively easy to implement and focuses on specific criteria to ensure data collection is consistent with little time commitment.
Successes and Next Steps
After the training, Jennifer received a seed funding grant from the Reef Resilience Network to coordinate and facilitate two workshops for local dive operators. Jennifer’s Reef Resilience Program is a citizen science project involving nine dive operators who operate within Sodwana Bay and volunteer to collect data using the reef resilience monitoring methodology she developed with experts during the training. Jennifer used these fund to host two workshops to launch the iSimangaliso Reef Resilience Program, introduce reef resilience concepts to local dive operators, and train operators on the new monitoring methodology. In addition, dive operators were supplied with a written manual of the monitoring methodology and received necessary materials and equipment for data collection.