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What is Biorock ?

The Biorock® method was invented, developed, and patented by the late Prof. Wolf Hilbertz and Dr. Thomas J. Goreau. Biorock technology uses low voltage direct currents (above 1.2 Volts) going through a steel structure. The Biorock process also called electrolysis is happening between 2 metals receiving electricity in sea water, resulting in a steel structure to grow solid limestone minerals and the other metal to slowly disintegrate. These currents are safe to humans and all marine organisms. There is no limit in principle to the size or shape of Biorock structures, they could be grown hundreds of miles long if funding allowed. The limestone is the best substrate for hard coral. The Biorock process is used to regenerate coral reefs, re-populate damage reefs with coral and fish, break the wave action, grow beaches, etc.

Hard and soft corals, sponges, tunicates, and bivalves are observed to grow on Biorock® materials at extraordinary rates. Hard corals on a Biorock structure can grow 2-8 times faster than in natural conditions, the corals on the Biorock reef are exceptionally bright colored and densely branched, heal from physical damage at least 20 times faster, show much higher survival rates from the most severe high temperature bleaching events, and show rates of new coral growth higher than any previously recorded data. Fish and lobster population growth in these structures is extraordinary, especially juvenile fish, and depends on the shape of Biorock structures, which can be made to provide an extraordinary density of hiding places. Biorock reefs have turned severely eroding beaches into 15 meters of beach growth in a few years by slowing waves so that instead of eroding sand at the shore, they deposit it. They have been found stable in category 4 hurricanes and the Asian Tsunami, because the open frameworks allow large waves to pass through.

The Gili Islands is one of the biggest Biorock reef restoration sites with Pemuteran, Bali. The Gili Eco Trust works closely with Biorock Indonesia to expand projects and educate more and more ocean passionates to use this amazing technology.

Our latest Biorock reef installed is using Blue Renewable Energy with AquaGen / Dynorotor marine current turbine, and we are fully motivated to carry on in this direction. We need your help to sponsor and install more Blue Energy Biorock Reefs.

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Why do we need it?

In 1999 local fishermen founded the SATGAS to patrol the waters around the three Gili islands. At that time there was a lot of dynamite and cyanide fishing, destroying all the coral and killing the aquatic life inhabiting the reefs. Coral reefs had been left in a disastrous state after the intense El Niño in 1997-1998. The local population reacted and started to organize patrols around the islands in order to eliminate and educate against the bad fishing practices. An agreement was concluded between the fishermen, defining the legal techniques of fishing, limited to certain authorized zones, with the purpose of putting an end to dynamite and cyanide fishing practices.

To support the SATGAS, the main dive shops of the Gili islands decided to establish the NGO Gili Eco Trust in 2000. Donations are used to place buoys of anchoring, to restore the reefs using Biorock technology and coral propagation, coral gardening and to organize many other non-profit projects to protect the environment around the islands.

From 2004, Gili Eco Trust started the Biorock project, creating artificial reefs and restoring the natural habitat of thousands of fish in previously destroyed areas of reef, and managing the MPA for zoning, control and improvements for marine ecosystems. Coral reefs are the most sensitive ecosystems to climate change, Biorock technology protects corals from mass coral bleaching (due to high temperatures).Throughout the years, we have observed and monitored a biodiversity loss at each mass coral bleaching event 1998, 2002, 2009, 2016. We have monitor and observed that 100% of the corals will survive mass coral bleaching on powered Biorock reefs. As the reef restoration projects started in 2004 in some protected area, we can notice how much conservation is helping in preventing biodiversity loss.  

Our project increases the number of coral reefs and their resilience to environmental stresses by offering a stable substrate for their growth. This creates and maintains otherwise at risk habitat for marine life generating huge biodiversity outcomes for the local ecosystem. Gili Matra has some exceptional rich coral reefs with some very special species such as blue coral (Heliopora Corulea), staghorn coral (Acropora Cervicornis), elkhorn coral (Acropora Palmata), Tubastraea.

Also Gili Matra has a huge population of marine turtles which are all nesting on the beaches of the 3 Gilis. The marine turtles we can see in Gili Matra are: hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) and green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), as well as loggerhead turtle (Chelonia mydas) also spotted in the area.

It is crucial to move forward with this project now to share a story of hope in a time where the world is dominated by news of despair. Thanks to climate change, ocean pollution, overfishing and poverty - our oceans are in greater threat than ever before - but there is still hope. 

Blue energy reef

Gili Eco Trust has been replenishing coral reefs in Gili Matra marine park in Lombok, Indonesia, by using different restorative methods of coral gardening, coral propagation and the Biorock reef restoration technology. Biorocks especially, have shown remarkable success in restoring damaged coral reefs and have proven great resilience to temperature stresses and global warming. Biorock technology enhances coral growth up to 8 times and was the driving point of survival to our reefs in the 2016 mass bleaching event, which we predict won't be the last mass warming event of its kind in the face of climate change. Our Biorocks use a low voltage electricity supplied from the main grid or solar panels. Our mission was to find a renewable ocean energy supply to power these artificial reefs sustainably. Then, we can utilize marine currents to provide electricity to Biorocks, making the technology completely renewable and replicable everywhere, even in remote places. In 2020, we founded a partnership with a UK-Canadian tech startup: AquaGen  (formerly known as Dynorotor). Designing an ocean turbine uniquely for Biorock technology and we aim to install a large coral restoration project with Spencer Arnold artist and underwater welder from Conservation Diver. This coral installation will restore a huge section of damaged reef in Gili Trawangan, whilst running off-grid, giving the chance of being replicated in remote areas. It will raise awareness to millions of people through scuba-diving and eco-tourism and can and aims to replenish fish stocks by restoring previously destroyed ecosystems.

In November 2023, this Blue Energy Reef was installed in Halik Reef in the North of Gili Trawangan. Now, we are already thinking and planning to expand that Biorock reef. How to get more funding for the Wave Donut from our partner AquaGen to raise even more awareness about ocean conservation, reef restoration and blue renewable energy!

An educational video will come out soon to show the success of sustainable eco restorative efforts!

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Coral Propagation

We started using this reef restoration technique in Trawangan in April 2018. Gili Eco Trust are certified Ocean Quest/ Sea Shepherd Coral propagation trainers. In order to protect our very fragile coral reefs, its a great course for volunteers to learn this coral propagation method to continue to maintain, monitor and propagate young corals. In April 2018, we set up Gili Trawangan’s first coral nursery using the technique. It needs constant care and maintenance which after a short but informative 3 day workshop, you can be a part of our coral nursery monitors. You will get a certificate at the end of it. This will allow you to participate to projects about marine conservation and spend more time in water.

We have now 4 coral nurseries that always need maintenance and more baby corals.

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