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East Africans Move to Boost Coral Reef

Panafrican News Agency (Dakar), 19 March 2001

Dakar, Senegal - A pioneering initiative, aimed at boosting the fortunes of East Africa's world-famous coral reefs and their globally important wildlife is to be unveiled in Nairobi on Tuesday.

The initiative will be announced by researchers at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

Several reefs in the region, located in Kenya, the Seychelles and Madagascar, have been chosen for development into "centres of excellence" for reef management, says a news release received in Dakar on Monday.

Under a four year programme, these reefs are expected to be transformed into beacons of good practice "with the lessons learnt on protecting and managing them for the benefit of local people, wildlife and tourists exported to other threatened reefs in the region," says the release.

The East African initiative is part of a global project called the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN). The network has secured 10 million US dollar 10 million from the United Nations Foundation in Washington, to carry out the vital work.

According to Klaus Toepfer, UNEP's Executive Director: "There has been growing scientific evidence over recent years that the globe's coral reefs are in serious decline.

"There are many threats facing these vital habitats for fish, important sources of tourist revenue and natural sea defences for many low lying islands."

East Africa's reefs, in common with reefs around the world, are facing a heavy burden of threats. A boom in coastal development and marine-based activities has triggered these over the past three decades along the region's 11,000 kilometres of coast, which is home to some 35 million people.

Copyright 2001 Panafrican News Agency. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).