The Wakatobi Collaborative Reef Conservation Program
Wakatobi Resort is committed to the issues of marine conservation and community development. This commitment is one of our founding core values, and a key component of our operating model. These values and commitments are manifested in a variety of programs that provide both proactive protection for the environment, and tangible benefits to the community. The cornerstone of these initiatives is the Collaborative Reef Conservation Program, which was established at the time of the resort's founding.
The resort's founders understood that the best way to protect the region's natural resources was to create an economically viable alternative to destructive and unsustainable fishing practices, and to communicate the intrinsic economic value of the region's coral reefs to the people living within the Wakatobi region. This understanding led to the creation of the Collaborative Reef Conservation Program in 1998, following consultations with local leaders and village elders. Initially, this involved an agreement with local people to designate a 6 km section of reef as a marine sanctuary. Direct payments were provided to area villages and fishermen in exchange for honoring this no-fishing zone. These payments in turn encouraged the villages to take an active role in protecting the marine ecosystem.
It took many years of continuous and consistent efforts to build deep trust and understanding within the community to where all members of the surrounding villages respected and honored the agreement. Based on the continued success of these efforts, the program has expanded to include all 17 local communities around the resort, and the sanctuary now encompasses over 20km of some of the finest reefs of the world. Operational expenses for the reserve and payments are generated from resort revenue, providing the local population with a sustainable source of regular lease disbursements, and a sense of ownership of their natural resources.
The Collaborative Reef Conservation Program remains a work in progress, constantly expanding and being fine-tuned as the community undergoes changes and as threats and opportunities emerge. We are confident that this unique initiative is a sound, self-sustaining program that will protect the reefs of Wakatobi islands for generations to come.