BY APB Staff on 14 Dec 2023

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation and its partners aim to fast-track the deployment of heat-tolerant corals.

McLaren Great Barrier Reef

Image: Ian McLeod/AIMS

McLaren Racing and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation have announced a new initiative to accelerate coral reef restoration in Australia.

A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to the EPA, contributing to climate change that is damaging ecosystems. Many auto makers have announced plans to slash emissions over the coming decades, including McLaren Racing, which aims to reach net zero by 2040.

Together with McLaren’s Accelerator programme, which takes the learnings and expertise from the fast-paced world of motorsport and applies them to real-world applications, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and its partners aim to fast-track and scale up the deployment of heat-tolerant corals.

Coral reefs cannot adapt fast enough to warming ocean temperatures, making them one of the most vulnerable ecosystems on the planet.

credit Tourism-and-Events-Queensland

Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

READ: Great Barrier Reef Spawning Next Generation of Corals

It is now evident that reducing emissions alone cannot secure the future of coral reefs. A toolkit of solutions is required to help restore coral reefs and enhance their resilience to climate change.

The foundation, along with a group of leading science agencies and universities around Australia, has been addressing this challenge through the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Programme.

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While important progress and breakthroughs are being made, this group says it recognises that to be successful in an ecosystem as large and diverse as the Great Barrier Reef, it is imperative to ‘solve significant science and engineering bottlenecks.’

The group says the opportunity to bring the expertise of McLaren Racing into this programme at this critical scaling moment is a potential game-changer. “Climate change is the number one threat to the Great Barrier Reef,” says Great Barrier Reef Foundation managing director Anna Marsden. “We need to urgently restore damaged reefs and enhance the resilience of the ecosystem.

“Through the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Programme, we’ve pioneered world-leading techniques that revolutionise reef restoration. Our next challenge is to solve significant science and engineering bottlenecks that will allow us to scale up this critical work in a closing window of opportunity.

“The Great Barrier Reef Foundation is excited to partner with McLaren to leverage the team’s elite engineering skills to help accelerate coral reef restoration at a scale and speed never before attempted.”

The Reef Restoration and Adaptation Programme is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Partners include the Australian Institute of Marine Science, CSIRO, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, The University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Southern Cross University and James Cook University.

Ian-McLeod-AIMS

Image: Ian McLeod/AIMS

McLaren Racing director of sustainability Kim Wilson adds: “At McLaren Racing we have committed to achieving net zero by 2040 and to play our part in line with climate science to tackling climate change.

“A big part of that is ensuring we reduce emissions across all our operations and supply chain, but we know that’s not enough. We also have to do something about the existing carbon in the earth’s atmosphere, damaged ecosystems and biodiversity loss.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, which provides tangible and credible solutions to the impacts of climate change, and we are excited to see what we can achieve together.”

“The Great Barrier Reef is one of the largest ecosystems in the world – an area larger than Italy – and solutions to improve its ability to withstand climate change will require not only scientific breakthroughs but also a mindset shift toward industrial-scale production, focusing on increasing capacity and reducing costs,” says Reef Restoration and Adaptation programme executive director Dr Cedric Robillot.

“This partnership combines our reef biology and marine systems engineers’ expertise with the problem-solvers behind one of the world’s most recognised engineering brands to streamline the production of corals and increase the scale of deployment on the reef while raising global awareness of the threats they face.”

McLaren Great Barrier Reef Ian McLeod/AIMS

Image: Ian McLeod/AIMS

The start of the annual coral spawning was recorded on the Great Barrier Reef in early November. Billions of tiny pink balls exploded into the water over the reef, as different species of soft corals and a handful of hard corals began the annual regeneration process.

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