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Why Raising The ARK is so important…


Resurrecting the ARK

Words by the Association of Reef Keepers

Photography by M. Jennings

The Association of Reef Keepers (ARK) was first formed in 1991 by a group of citizens concerned about the state of the BVI’s marine resources. Over the following years, ARK made its mark both locally and internationally. Some of the early accomplishments were the various educational materials printed such as those to remind visiting yachts about anchoring in sand instead of dropping anchors on fragile coral reefs.

Later on, ARK started implementing a newly developed global protocol for reef monitoring – Reef Check. One of the last important successes of ARK was its role in the execution of erosion control measures during the development of the runway extension at the airport; however, by around 2005, ARK was slowly becoming less and less prominent within the Territory. By 2012, the founding members were ready to close the account and walk away from what once had the potential to become one of the most effective non-profit organisations in the Territory.

Without leadership and any future plans, ARK’s mission towards the preservation and sustainability of the BVI’s marine environment would have forever been lost. Fortunately, the interest and dedication of Dr Shannon Gore to assume the challenge to resurrect the organisation as the new managing director meant a ‘game-changer.’

By mid-2014, an innovative stratagem had been devised and a new board of directors had taken over from the founding members. Although ARK is still in its early stages, clear goals have been constructed and four programmes are under development that focus on marine biodiversity, habitat monitoring and restoration, island erosion, and a sustainable cruising and marine industry.

In July 2014, the first project under ARK was launched and is entitled the ‘Cane Garden Bay Ridge 2 Reef Project’ (CGB R2R). This ‘ridge to reef’ concept is a widely used holistic approach that focuses not only on hillside environments, but also the coastal and marine ecosystems within an area (watershed) from the top of hills down to the coral reefs fronting the land. It encompasses the multi-dimensional environmental, socio-cultural and economic characteristics of communities existing within a geographically shared area, such as the Cane Garden Bay community.


For years, there have been numerous issues that have arisen within the community and ARK—together with Green VI—will be giving ‘Let’s talk…’ presentations for the community (or anyone interested) to inform people about up-to-date science, technological advances, and various case studies around the world where communities have resolved their own issues.

This is only the first step in the R2R Project, aimed to build local capacity and bring the community together as one voice.

The ‘Let’s talk…’ series will be held every third Thursday of the month at various local businesses – anyone interested in these presentations can find more information on the ‘CGB Ridge 2 Reef’ Facebook page.

For more information on ARK and to stay informed of the new programmes we are working on, visit the Association of Reef Keepers Facebook page (official website coming soon).

Erin Paviour-Smith

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