I had written this post a while ago, coming back from a beautiful excursion when I came to discover Jakarta in August. I never published it, but the other night I was talking to someone about coral planting, and he was interested and intrigued – like many, included me, he did not know this was possible. So here it goes. Enjoy!
I just came back from my first period in Jakarta, which will be my home for the next couples of years. The highlight of these three weeks has definitely been the discovery of an amazing little island, Pulau Macan (Tiger Island), which lies in front of Jakarta, and can be easily reached and enjoyed even for a short week-end. After the impact with the enveloping traffic, the constant noise of motorbikes and horns, the pollution and the feeling that the city is dominated by an incessant flow of roaring engines, arriving on that paradise and breathing pure air, feeling the sun and the wind on the skin, sleeping in silence and living naturally and eco friendly, has been pure bliss.
What has intrigued me a lot and I want to share with you, is the fact that the lovely people of the island plant and cultivate coral, something I did not even know was possible! What I knew, though, is that coral reefs are under constant threats. According to Nooas (check their site to find out more) “Coral reefs face numerous hazards and threats. As human populations and coastal pressures increase, reef resources are more heavily exploited, and many coral habitats continue to decline. Current estimates note that 10 percent of all coral reefs are degraded beyond recovery. Thirty percent are in critical condition and may die within 10 to 20 years. Experts predict that if current pressures are allowed to continue unabated, 60 percent of the world’s coral reefs may die completely by 2050″.
I loved the whole process a lot. One morning all the guests of the islands were summoned in the “main square”, where we were shown the procedure and actively participated in completing a lot of cultivated coral. A structure made of a small net (similar to a child bed’s net) upon which a series of rings made of cement, salt and sand are placed is basically all you need – except, of course, the coral. This is how the structure looks like, with the rings already prepared and dry:
In a bucket more sand, cement and salt preparation is freshly mixed: all you have to do is to get a small amount of it with a wooden stick, place it in the ring, and before it gets dry, take a small piece of coral (all the coral has been previously collected from the reef and is placed in a water in a big bucket and cut in smaller pieces with a nipper and place it inside. You don’t have to mix hands – one fills the ring, the other one touches the coral. The coral should not stay outside of the water for more than ten minutes, which, added to the fact that the preparation tends to dry quickly, gives the whole activity a certain affectionate sense of rushing – rushing for the good of the coral, that is. When all the rings on the structure host a small piece of coral, the net is slowly put under water – until the mixture, which when entering the sea tends to spread around, settles. It is then transferred in the section where the other nets, previously prepared, have been placed, and where the coral will slowly and calmly grow to go and reinforce the endangered reef.
It is a slowly and delicate process: it takes a little piece of coral one year to grow a twenty centimeters plant. A very tiny action in front of massive destruction. One of those things that give you hope despite all.