Some of the environmental impacts of climate change can be felt from our own homes, from heat waves and drought to intense storms and flooding. Others – like the warming oceans and degradation of coral reefs – are less apparent until you look underwater.
“Climate change is the greatest threat to coral reef health worldwide,” says Associate Professor Adam Smith, the Managing Director of Reef Ecologic.
Reef Ecologic was founded in 2014 with a vision ‘for a better planet’ at a local, national, and global level. Its work in developing and implementing innovative solutions to environmental challenges is inspired by a love of the nearby coral reefs off the northeast coast of Australia.
“Our projects are designed to address the issues facing reefs through both direct action, restoring coral reefs, and indirect action, mitigating carbon emissions to address climate change.”
Through tailored programs like coral gardening and underwater art projects, Reef Ecologic seeks to engage, inspire, and where possible, empower communities to care for reefs. Recently, this came in the development of the Museum of Underwater Art: the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
“Our partnership with the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) is locally and globally significant,” says Smith. “It connects people with Indigenous culture, the Great Barrier Reef, and science, as well as boosting sustainable tourism in the local economy.” The sculptures are also helping to regenerate life underwater by attracting a diversity of fish and corals.
The installations include the Coral Greenhouse: a 72 square metre structure containing sculptures and human figures depicting people undertaking scientific and conservation activities. Above water, the ‘Ocean Siren’ can be seen from the nearby jetty. Modelled on a local Wulgurukaba Traditional Owner, Takoda Johnson, the figure is illuminated with colours representing live water temperature data at night. Nearby observers can find a guide to the colours that also shows the implication on the reefs.
“Our work has started many conversations about the state of the reef, restoration, climate change, sustainable development and ecological footprints,” Smith says. “The vast majority of people and organisations want to reduce their negative impacts.”
“We lead by example, demonstrating best practices in the field of community engagement, communication and corporate carbon mitigation.”
Education is also a fundamental component of Reef Ecologic’s work. The team uses internships, workshops, training programs, and presentations to share the importance of reefs and protecting our planet. Since its inception, Reef Ecologic has trained thousands of people in topics from species identification to project management.
The team also engages their partners and collaborators to encourage them to make all of their activities carbon neutral. At Reef Ecologic, this means more than just offsetting. The team measures and reports on its footprint, invests in 100% renewable energy for its offices, and only offsets where emissions reduction is not possible.
As the only B Corp in Townsville, Australia, Reef Ecologic is helping drive a local movement of using business to benefit all people, communities, and the planet.