Developing a Restoration Strategy for the Mauritius Oil Spill
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Posted by: Alexis Gibson
Over the last month, we’ve watched the slow unfolding of impacts from the Mauritius oil spill. The epicenter of the spill is a biodiversity hot spot and internationally-important wetland area, with pristine barrier reefs and mangrove forests. Just off shore,
Ile aux Aigrettes is home to multiple endemic and endangered wildlife species. These areas also play a critical role in supporting local livelihoods and providing food to the coastal communities in the area. While the oil spill is already starting to impact marine life, over the long term it will even greater impacts on entire ecosystems along the coast.
Cleanup of the oil spill in Mauritius is still in the early days and will undoubtedly be a multi-year process. We have already seen efforts by thousands of citizens and environmental groups to slow the spread of oil and rescue animals. The
World Wildlife Fund included
long-term funding for restoration on their list of priorities and recommendations for the clean-up effort, and we agree that mobilizing financial support that meets the temporal and spatial scale of the degradation will be a necessary component
for successful restoration.
In addition to funding, successful ecological restoration of Mauritius will require both local and scientific knowledge to develop a robust plan. Drawing on different types of knowledge can help those developing restoration plans better understand the state of the ecosystem before the oil spill, which techniques are likely to be most successful in addressing the impacts, and inform project goals and objectives. Managers can source this information from previous restoration projects in the area or in similar ecosystems, or from resources exploring restoration techniques they are interested in using, especially those previously successful in post-oil spill situations. Developing a well-informed plan could be especially important in dealing with oil and mangroves
, where the wrong clean-up methods can lead to greater damage, especially by driving oil into the sand or trampling.
SER's Restoration Resource Center (RRC) can be one tool to identify these kinds of resources. Here we’ve put together a collection of information from the RRC on restoration projects in Mauritius or those dealing with oil spills, as well as resources focused on mangrove and coral reef restoration techniques.