Heritage Resorts - Stories 2018 - Issue 2 - Page 70



|NATURE
The rehabilitation of
Bel Ombre beach was
tackled inclusively by
integrating all the concerned
communities – the hotels,
the villagers, the fishermen,
the boaters and the local
authorities. “There have
been other attempts to
place artificial reefs in the
lagoons of Mauritius,” says
Iain Watt. “But they weren’t
conclusive because they
had been carried out by
isolated groups, without a
coherent approach.”
THE RETURN OF
MARINE LIFE
The field studies and
upstream consultative
meetings produced a
solution that is technically,
socially and economically
adapted to the area.
Throughout the project, the
participants received regular
updates on its status at each
stage. After developing the
engineering solution, the
project was then undertaken
with a multifunctional
approach. “For this project,
we took the opportunity
to include a sustainable
ecological dimension as well,”
tells Iain Watt.
The structures put in
place to slow the currents
encouraged the regeneration
of marine life in Bel Ombre
lagoon. A first layer of
algae has formed on the
artificial reefs soon after
their construction, creating
an environment favourable
to marine life. “Only a week
after the installation of the
structures, I could observe
five new marine species,”
reveals Iain Watt. “After a
few weeks, we could see a
reef community of about
15 species.” This project
restored balance in the
Bel Ombre lagoon by
recreating the natural habitat
of marine species.
After the completion of
the Bel Ombre beach
rehabilitation, the NGO
Reef Conservation took
charge of the environmental
monitoring and prepares
quarterly reports on the
state of marine life. Plus,
the NGO will soon set up a
snorkelling route that allows
one to discover the tropical
species of the lagoon.
This snorkelling route is
currently an exclusive offer
in Mauritius because very
few hotels on the island are
situated near a lagoon that
is as abundantly populated
with fish and corals as this
one is.
This beach and lagoon
rehabilitation is part of a
long-term vision for the Bel
Ombre region. The main
point is to preserve the
region as a whole. If the
initial goal was to preserve
the beach, there is now an
opportunity to develop a
sustainable development
policy that will regulate
socioeconomic activities in
the region.
68
| HERITAGE RESORTS STORIES

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