Take Action: Restore Coral Reefs and Prevent Beach Erosion with Biorock

After six years of creating new coral reefs, the Gili Trawangan islanders are ready for more. In November this year, more structures will be built and laid down underwater following a classroom workshop integrated with hands-on training. The 7th Indonesian Biorock reef restoration and shore protection training workshop 15-21 November 2010 is being organised by The Gili Eco Trust and the Global Coral Reef Alliance. Read about it as well as the Gili Trawangan real life reef restoration story here.

by Mallika Naguran

Singapore, 29 September 2010. The Biorock process is tried and tested reef restoration technology used in more than 20 countries to regenerate coral reefs, prevent beach erosion, restore fisheries habitat, and preserve and restore marine biodiversity.

One of the largest Biorock programs in the world is in Gili Trawangan, Lombok NTB, Indonesia, where the Gili Eco Trust will organize the 7th International Biorock Reef Restoration Training Workshop November 15-21, 2010.

A five-year-old Biorock structure at Villa Ombak, Gili Trawangan.

The 7th Biorock workshop is a hands-on training on coral reef restoration including: building new coral reefs and growing back eroding beaches. Join the workshop and learn how to restore the coral reefs with this proven technology.

Dr. Tom Goreau, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, and co-inventor of the Biorock technology, will give lectures and presentations about worldwide coral threats, coral diseases, global warming and its effects on coral reefs and beach erosion, reef restoration programs, and theory and practice of Biorock technology, including design, construction, installation, monitoring, maintenance, and repair. Reef experts will show presentations about coral reefs and marine studies, films and slide shows.

Spend a week with the passionate teams on Gili Trawangan to study coral reefs and build new Biorock reefs to expand the 40 existing Biorock reefs around the Gili Islands. Dive around Gili Islands to collect broken corals and bring them to the new Biorock reef, watch the fish settling in and observe the coral pieces amazingly cementing onto the steel structures.

Don't leave it all to nature; you can build a new reef.

If you have a site needing reef restoration for tourism, shore protection, or fisheries, this is the place to learn how.

After accomplishing the Biorock wokshop certified PADI instructors can apply to PADI to be able to teach the PADI distinctive Specialty: Introduction to Biorock process.

Healthy Coral Growth & Shore Protection in Gili Trawangan

The Gili Islands are dependent on a healthy marine habitat for their fisheries, tourism, sand supply, shore protection and marine biodiversity. This habitat has been largely damaged by combinations of coral heatstroke, disease, storms, land-based sewage, global sea level rise, over-fishing and direct physical damage from destructive fishing practices, boats, anchors, tourists and reef harvesting.

Sand washed out leaving roots bare. Common problem with wave action on most islands affecting beach life and properties.

As a result, renewable marine resources are declining, endangering local food supplies, shorelines and tourism income. Without large-scale restoration of degraded habitats to make them capable of supporting larger fish and shellfish populations there will be fewer fish in the future and without healthy growing corals there will be fewer beaches or tourism income, affecting all business owners on the island. Gili Trawangan residents realised that restoration of their degraded reefs and coastal habitats on a scale that makes a difference must be an active environmental priority for local businesses and not an afterthought.

However, there is a much more serious purpose to these projects than for ecotourism. By keeping corals alive under lethal conditions and restoring coral reefs where they cannot recover naturally, Gili Eco Trust aims to restore the reef and its fisheries, to keep ecosystems from going extinct from global warming, and to protect the shoreline from vanishing under the waves. The Gili Trawangan projects will form a Coral Ark for restoring surrounding reefs the next time the corals are badly damaged from high temperatures, like they were in 1998. Therefore the goal is to grow every kind of coral possible.

The Biorock reef restoration project on the Gili Islands has been regenerating coral reefs for six years. Already measurable success can be seen with regard to fish populations, coral growth and survival rates, ecotourism, education and the halting of beach erosion. There are now nearly 40 Biorock structures around The Gili Islands, which fall into three structural categories:

Attaching coral fragments to new reef is like planting new trees.

1. Biorock reefs to grow corals and provide new fish habitats, thus creating interesting new dive sites.

2. Biorock anti-erosion reefs to grow coral and provide fish nurseries while causing sand to accumulate on the beach. These also provide good shallow snorkeling sites.

3. Biorock wave breaker structures to stop and reverse beach erosion, and to "grow" the beach.

According to Gili Eco Trust, every Biorock reef or structure has been showing positive consequences on fish populations, coral biodiversity and regenerating eroding beach.

"Biorock structures have changed the marine environnment by offering habitats for fish and regenerating the damaged reef," said Delphine Robbe, co-ordinator of the Gili Eco Trust. She noted that the fastest growing corals were the table coral and acropora branches, growing about 4-6 times faster than usual. "We had bleaching corals due to high temperature in May 2009 and all the corals on the Biorocks recovered much faster with their colours."

The anti-erosion reefs are working well as fish nurseries and by accumulating sand. The wave breaker reefs in Karma Kayak, Gili Eco Villas and Kokita have shown incredible results very quickly by stopping the erosion process. The beach directly behind the structures has started to grow. The other Biorock reefs are still growing coral faster and making divers happy through the biodiversity of fish and creatures they can observe on the structures and the surrounding area.

In Delphine's opinion, Biorock plays a big part in restoring their marine environment to healthy conditions.

"The reef regeneration could be done without Biorock by just putting limestone in the sea but by using the Biorock process we are accelerating everything which allow us to expand our reefs faster too. The antierosion structures have been accumulating loads of rubble and sand. So it is success all round."

Attracting big and small marine creatures alike.

The new habitats are a delight to marine enthusiasts. "Many people are snorkeling and diving around the Biorock structures and they really enjoy the many lovely and weird fish, and to see the different shapes of reef."

"The kids love the turtle!" she exclaimed.

Join the Gili Trawangan folks in re-building their marine environment and learn a new skill in environmental management. Register today.

Registration Fee

PADI Professionals:  US$ 550                                          

Individuals (divers):  US$ 550           

Individuals (non divers):  US$400

Students (divers):  US$ 350

Students (non divers):  US$200                                               

Corporate/Institutional:  US$1500                                               

Workshop fees include:

Workshop certificate, Materials for workshop, Scuba tanks and diving equipment, between 5 and 8 dives, educational materials, evening dinner, Biorock workshop T-shirt, and drinking water.

Be a Sponsor to help with restoration.

Extension of an existing BioRock reef: US$1200

Construction and installation of a new BioRock reef (10m long): US$1700

Anti-erosion BioRock reef (20m long, 5-8m wide): US$2200

The sponsorships include:

Construction, installation, materials, coral attachment, power supply and cable connection of a BioRock reef, teaching materials and maintenance techniques.

Sponsors logo on workshop T-shirts, posters, banners, advert through film and documentary recorded during the workshop.

Participants can be chosen by the Gili islands sponsors and can attend the 7th Biorock Workshop by paying the student’s rate.

Getting There

Fly to Bali, transfer to Sanur by cab. Hop onto a speed boat.

Transport from Bali - Gili Islands - Bali: Special return rate of 900,000rp (US$80) by Gili Cat or Blue Water Express speed boats transfer from Bali


The Gili islands offer a very wide range of accommodation from US$10 to US$100 a night.

As November is within the quiet season, there is no need for pre-booking unless you request for a specific hotel or resort.

For more information on the workshop and to register for it, please go to www.biorock-workshop.org

Read related articles on Gaia Discovery.

Interview with Dr Thomas Goreau, President of Global Coral Reel Alliance

More on Biorock and how it helps corals withstand stresses.

See related Gaia Discovery article on Gili Trawangan ecotourism.