ABU DHABI, 14th March, 2023 (WAM) — ADQ, an Abu Dhabi-based investment and holding company, and Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), the largest environmental regulator in the region, and a Hong Kong-based Climate technology company Archireef Kong has announced the successful deployment of man-made 3D printed terracotta-based coral reef bricks aimed at helping coral recovery in the Arabian Gulf off the coast of Abu Dhabi.
ADQ and Archireef announced their collaboration in November 2022 to fund the research and development of ecological engineering solutions for marine biodiversity restoration, combining scientific research with the use of the latest technologies such as 3D printing, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence.
Through its partnership with Archireef, ADQ aims to seize opportunities in innovative areas that benefit the environment and mitigate risks associated with climate change, while contributing to the protection of habitat and species contribute.
The project is an innovative addition to EAD’s efforts, whose marine ecosystem protection and restoration initiatives rank among the top 10 globally, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
The agency provided logistical support and expertise to the project, and EAD’s team of coral specialists worked closely with ADQ and Archireef to assess and select sites to supply coral for the project from EAD’s in situ coral nursery.
The tiles were designed by a team of marine biologists and architects and produced by custom 3D clay printing at Archireef’s new production facility in the KEZAD Group’s economic zone. Compared to other types of artificial reefs, clay reef structures are environmentally benign, designed to closely mimic the coral’s natural form and prevent sediment buildup, a major threat to corals.
The transplant site chosen in partnership with EAD is a marine reserve near Um Khorah Island in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi, featuring 40 square meters of coral reef tiles with approximately 1,200 coral fragments growing in a specialist nursery owned by EAD.
The tiles were deployed in five days by a team of seven divers. Ongoing monitoring of the deployment site will provide data on coral performance, including photo updates to capture fish population replenishment.
Anas Jawdat Albarguthi, Chief Operating Officer of ADQ, said: “Our partnership with Archireef brings to Abu Dhabi a unique and innovative approach to coral restoration to protect our emirate’s natural environment and promote sustainable development. For ADQ, being part of this The project providing a lifeline to endangered coral reefs is a memorable occasion, the first of its kind in the UAE and wider region. Underlining our commitment to practical solutions driven by R&D and innovation to address environmental challenges, this biodiversity The recovery plan is in line with our ESG aspirations and we believe it will have a positive impact not only on our planet, but also on the local communities in which we operate.”
Ahmed Al Hashemi, Executive Director of EAD’s Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, said: “This project highlights the importance of adopting innovative technologies to assist in the restoration of marine biodiversity. and key to studying species such as coral reefs. This specific project is an extension of all of our ocean restoration programs, especially the first coral reef restoration project in our region. Additionally, it is part of our efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change, which is part of our EAD priorities, especially with the UAE hosting COP28 this year.”
Vriko Yu, co-founder and CEO of Archireef, added: “With reference to our industry-leading coral survival rate of 95% achieved in a similar project in Hong Kong, we have every reason to believe that the Abu Dhabi marine ecosystem will Gain similar benefits from deploying our innovative terracotta-based coral reef tiles. As the emirate ramps up climate change mitigation efforts in line with national goals and targets, we hope to contribute to the restoration of biodiversity.”
As the most diverse ecosystems on Earth, supporting the highest number of aquatic species per unit area, coral reefs are increasingly receiving exceptional protection from government and private sector actors. 34 different types of hard corals are known to inhabit Abu Dhabi waters. Around the world, the presence of corals has declined over the past decade. Abu Dhabi is no exception. In 2017 alone, the emirate lost 73% of its coral reefs due to massive coral bleaching due to rising water temperatures.