June 10, 2023

Coral restoration projects are blooming around the world, as coastal destinations are increasing efforts to protect their coral reefs from climate change and climbing ocean temperatures. The tiny Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire has a new initiative that will help restore more of their already protected coral reefs.

Pledge the new “Bonaire Bond” between Earth Day 2022 and 2023 and Bonaire will plant even more coral trees in its protected waters. Bonus: the initiative should help raise awareness even further about the importance of living sustainably.

The island of Bonaire

Bonaire is one of the three “ABC Islands” of the Dutch Antilles (with Aruba and Curaçao) and has long invested in sustainability.

Sitting south of the hurricane belt, Bonaire is known for its excellent snorkeling and scuba diving (including as one of the best shore diving destinations in the world), the production of sea salt (the island has 50-foot-tall white salt pyramids and pink salt flats cover 10% of its land), its beaches of white and pink sand, caves, colorful buildings from the late 1800s in its capital city, a burgeoning culinary scene complete with Michelin-starred talent, and for its sustainability efforts.

Bonaire is the world’s first Blue Destination, with longstanding initiatives to protect its natural and cultural resources. Back in 1979, Bonaire was the first Caribbean island to designate as a protected marine park 100% of its surrounding waters — the Bonaire National Marine Park protects Bonaire from the high water mark to a depth of 200 feet. Since 1969, Bonaire has given protected status to more than 20% of its land. That’s been critical to protect both flora and fauna, including the donkeys, goats, sea turtles, pink flamingos, parrots, and other animals that share the island with its population of 21,000 human residents. So far, about 50% of the island’s electricity needs are met by wind.

The Bonaire Bond: Available starting Earth Day 2022

Bonaire is now going further and invites visitors to sign its new Bonaire Bond as a way of reminding of the importance of sustainable tourism. In return, Bonaire will invest in more coral trees to help restore Bonaire’s reefs.

The Bonaire Bond is available between April 22, 2022 and April 22, 2023 — Earth Day this year and next. Starting April 22, 2022, you can click the Bonaire Bond link to learn more about Bonaire’s sustainability efforts and contribute to the effort. By signing the bond, you’ll pledge to:

  • be mindful of how you treat the ocean;
  • be courteous to and keep your distance from wildlife;
  • be eco-conscious and avoid single-use plastics (in Bonaire, there’s no need to buy bottled water — Bonaire’s tap water is perfectly potable);
  • tread lightly and leave no trace; and
  • respect and support local businesses, communities, and cultures.

A new kind of tree planting: Coral trees and Reef Renewal Bonaire

Largely due to climate change, the world’s corals are dying and coral restoration projects are critical for reversing the damage. There are a variety of methods to accelerate the growth of corals, and Bonaire is using coral trees.

A coral tree can hold about 100 pieces of coral on a structure that’s tethered to the ocean floor but able to float with the waves. It helps reefs to grow quickly and at heights above the ocean floor.

The Reef Renewal Bonaire foundation nurtures these coral trees for six to nine months and then plants them at restoration sites around the island, monitoring them to ensure they’re growing well. So far, Reef Renewal Bonaire has grown 15,000 corals in their ten nurseries and planted more than 130 coral trees onto Bonaire’s reefs. That means that since 2012, Bonaire’s reefs have more than 40,000 new corals planted, growing, and attracting other sea life to them.

If you want to go beyond simply making the Bonaire Bond pledge, you can adopt a coral nursery tree directly yourself for two years for a donation of $500. With your adoption donation, you can add a personalized tag onto your coral tree and you’ll get a driftwood sign on the foundation’s Bonaire Pole of Fame. Want to do even more? You can adopt a coral thicket or even bring some of the items on the foundation’s wish list with you when you next visit Bonaire and see its protected reefs for yourself.

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