Data collection using racing yachts for onboard sampling and deployment of drifter buoys

Beyond facilitating access to hard-to-reach locations, sailboats also provide useful modes of transport for deploying scientific instrumentation. The boats can carry scientific equipment, both for deployment in the ocean, but also for continual measurement by sensors that are permanently onboard. The race boats’ speed means that data from different locations can be captured across short timespans, something which is not achievable by most research vessels. Yachts can also be used to pilot and test new research technology and techniques, such as technology that allows results to be shared in real-time, and the OceanPack – a device which records essential ocean data from aboard the yachts. 

 

In a racing context, carrying devices that take meteorological measurements is not only beneficial for science partners, but also for the race participants themselves, as it helps to inform and improve weather forecasts that will impact their own decision-making and performances throughout the race. 

 

Using racing yachts for data collection paves the way for the installation and deployment of measuring devices on other vessels such as fishing or commercial boats, as well as other sailing boats. 

 

 

  • Sensors and scientific instrumentation can be installed on sailing boats.
  • The high speeds that are achievable by sailing yachts enable the collection of data across short time spans.
  • Boats can reach specific locations to deploy drifter buoys or Argo floats.

Scientific devices were originally designed for use on large research or commercial vessels. This presented some technical challenges regarding their use and installation aboard racing yachts which falls beyond the scope of their intended applications. As the boats are racing yachts the devices needed to be resilient and also light.

Challenges included operating sampling devices in an environment where there is fluctuating power supply, constant exposure to corrosive humidity, and where operators (i.e. teams and athletes) face immense physical (and psychological) stresses. This meant the devices needed to be user-friendly and simple to operate so that individuals with little specialised training could use them effectively and efficiently under stressful and pressurised conditions. The Ocean Race is collaborating with manufacturers to advance the technology and enhance its reliability for future uses.

Bamboo Training and Capacity Building

Building Block 5 focuses on the provision of various bamboo trainings by Forests4Future to support different aspects of the bamboo value chain in their intervention zone. These trainings are essential as enabling factors for the success and sustainability of the bamboo-related activities undertaken by the project. Forests4Future provides both financial and technical assistance in organizing and implementing these trainings. Since the start of the project, Forests4Future has conducted multiple bamboo trainings tailored to specific needs, for example:

  1. Bamboo propagation: Trainings on bamboo propagation are provided to tree nurseries to ensure the successful propagation of bamboo seedlings for plantation establishment.
  2. Bamboo plantation/stand management and harvesting: These trainings cover various aspects of bamboo plantation management, including planting techniques, maintenance practices, pest and disease management, and sustainable harvesting methods.
  3. Bamboo hot water treatment: This training is essential for bamboo processing units to learn proper techniques for treating bamboo with hot water, enhancing its durability and quality for further processing into products
    (...)

By offering these diverse trainings, Forests4Future aims to build the capacity and skills of local stakeholders involved in the bamboo value chain. This contributes to improved productivity, product quality, and overall sustainability of bamboo-related activities. Moreover, these trainings empower local communities to actively participate in and benefit from the economic and environmental opportunities presented by bamboo cultivation and utilization.

  1. Training Resources: Access to qualified trainers, materials, and facilities is crucial for effective bamboo trainings.
  2. Community Engagement: Involvement of local stakeholders enhances learning outcomes and ownership of skills.
  3. Continuous Learning: Follow-up sessions and peer networks reinforce training impact.
  4. Local Adaptation: Customizing content to suit local needs improves training effectiveness.
  5. Monitoring: Regular evaluation and participant feedback inform program improvements.
  1. Tailored Training Programs: Designing training programs that are tailored to the specific needs and skill levels of participants enhances learning outcomes and practical application of knowledge.
  2. Hands-on Training: Incorporating hands-on, practical exercises and demonstrations in training sessions improves engagement and retention of learning.
  3. Community Empowerment: Empowering local communities to take ownership of training initiatives and become trainers themselves fosters sustainability and scalability of capacity-building efforts.
  4. Partnerships and Collaboration: Collaborating with local institutions, organizations, and experts in bamboo-related fields enhances the quality and reach of training programs.
  5. Feedback Mechanisms: Establishing effective feedback mechanisms, such as surveys, focus groups, and evaluation forms, enables continuous improvement of training content, delivery methods, and overall impact.
Eco-hydrological Concept for Gully Rehabilitation

Building Block 3 discusses the eco-hydrological concept implemented by Forests4Future for erosion gully rehabilitation using bamboo raw material. This low-cost erosion measure has been successfully piloted and upscaled. Next to selling bamboo raw material to local processing units (PU) as described in Building Block 2, it can also be utilized to construct eco-hydrological measures. These green infrastructure units consist of a series of semipermeable wooden barriers placed in erosion gullies, forming a surface run-off regulating system that sequentially controls the flow of surface water. This unit plays a crucial role in regulating key hydrological parameters such as flow concentration and velocity, which in turn regulate hydro-logical and biological processes like runoff and infiltration. By mitigating erosion in gullies, these measures contribute to long-term gully restoration efforts. This technique and the skills required can be easily replicated by other farmers due to its relatively straightforward construction method, making it accessible for widespread adoption.

  1. Technical Expertise: Access to expertise in eco-hydrology, erosion control, and bamboo construction is crucial for effective eco-hydrological projects.
  2. Community Engagement: Involving local communities in project planning fosters ownership and sustainability.
  3. Resource Availability: Adequate bamboo and other resources are essential for project implementation.
  4. Monitoring and Evaluation: Robust evaluation mechanisms ensure the effectiveness of measures and enable adjustments for long-term success.
  1. Site Selection: Careful site (i.e. gully) selection considering factors such as slope, soil type, and vegetation cover is crucial for the effectiveness of eco-hydrological measures.
  2. Design Considerations: Proper design of wooden barriers and water flow control structures based on site-specific conditions and hydrological modeling enhances the performance of eco-hydrological measures.
  3. Maintenance and Upkeep: Regular maintenance and upkeep of eco-hydrological infrastructure, including repairing damaged barriers and clearing sediment buildup, are necessary for ensuring continued effectiveness.
  4. Community Involvement: Involving local communities experience and knowledge in project planning and implementation as well as monitoring and maintenance activities to increases awareness and ensures sustainability of eco-hydrological projects.
  5. Adaptive Management: Implementing adaptive management strategies based on monitoring data and feedback from local stakeholders helps in addressing challenges and improving project outcomes over time.
Bamboo Plantation Establishment and Restoration

Forests4Future's Building Block 2 focuses on supporting associated groups in communal land with erosion gullies to establish bamboo plantations. The seedlings for the plantations are sourced from local nurseries, as detailed in Building Block 1. As the bamboo reaches a certain growth stage, it can be harvested and sold to local bamboo processing units (PU), which then transform the raw material into valuable products, as discussed in Building Block 4. This approach not only promotes sustainable income generation for the community but also contributes to the restoration of degraded land. Bamboo's soil-protecting capacity plays a crucial role in long-term restoration efforts, particularly in areas vulnerable to erosion or already highly degraded like the Lake Abaya and Chamo catchment areas. Erosion and sedimentation pose significant threats to local farmers and fishers, making the restoration efforts with bamboo essential for protecting soils and ensuring future income opportunities for the communities.  

  1. Community Engagement: Raising awareness and local support for bamboo plantations.
  2. Technical Assistance: Essential expertise in bamboo cultivation and management.
  3. Market Access: Building strong value chains for steady income from bamboo products.
  4. Policy Support: Favorable policies for sustainable forestry and income generation.
  1. Site Selection: Careful consideration of site conditions, such as soil type, water availability, and slope, is crucial for successful bamboo plantation establishment.
  2. Species Selection: Choosing appropriate bamboo species that are well-suited to local climatic and soil conditions is important for achieving optimal growth and productivity.
  3. Training and Capacity Building: Continuous training and capacity-building programs for farmers and plantation workers are essential for enhancing skills and knowledge in bamboo cultivation and management.
  4. Land Use Rights: Securing land use rights is essential for sustainability and effective resource management in the restored area.
  5. Monitoring and Evaluation: Regular monitoring and evaluation of plantation performance, including growth rates, yield, and environmental impacts, are necessary for making informed management decisions and optimizing outcomes (as part of the post-planting management activities).
Establishing a set of race regulations that places science at the centre of racing activities

The Ocean Race Teams Sustainability Charter and Code of Conduct was co-created with the teams to express a fleet-wide commitment to sustainable operations and supporting a healthy ocean. The charter includes themes of Advocacy, Science, Learning and Operations. It seeks to get all teams, staff, and sailors to stand up for the ocean through sustainable sailing, team, and personal actions. 

 

On the science front, teams must pledge to agree to:

 

  • Supporting science-based decision making.
  • Participating in increasing knowledge and understanding of our ocean.
  • Hosting scientific equipment onboard.
  • Participating in sailor and citizen science programmes.
  • Contributing to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science in collaboration with The Ocean Race.

 

Including science within a charter and requiring stakeholders to undertake various science-related activities whilst competing in a sailing race embeds science, as a core value, into race practices. This is unique in the sporting world as it requires teams and athletes to take on environmental responsibilities as well as their existing sporting responsibilities.

 

  • Awareness of climate change and the importance, and fragility, of oceans. 
  • Desire to protect oceans and sailing’s ‘racetrack’.
  • Understanding the importance of data collection for climate and ocean science.
  • Desire to use sailing and racing beyond sporting objectives, as a platform for scientific research.

Collaboration is key, everyone needs to take part and be responsible for a better future for all. 

 

Engagement with the teams, partners and host cities  needs to be early on and there is a need to support them in their journey - not as an afterthought or last minute addition. There needs to be someone within each team that is dedicated to Sustainability and maintaining the Sustainability Charter within their team and department. It is important not to underestimate the amount of work needed to maintain the Sustainability Charter and our sustainability goals - assign enough resources!

 

In an event like The Ocean Race, there are also challenges due to unpredictable circumstances like boat repairs from dismasting or collisions which can increase the footprint and environmental impact of the team and the Race. It is important to have some extra capacity and contingencies to offset unforeseen circumstances like these. 

A unique racecourse that provides access to geographically extreme and data-sparse areas across the planet’s oceans

The underlying premise for The Ocean Race – racing to circumnavigate the world – means that the race naturally takes competitors to some of the most remote areas in the world. This makes it a unique platform for undertaking scientific research as it gives scientists access to remote areas, such as the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, that would otherwise rarely be accessible. Ships sailing outside of regular shipping routes play an essential role in the ability to deploy scientific instrumentation, such as the drifter buoys and Argo floats that are deployed during the race, across under-sampled locations. This affords rare opportunities for gathering data from parts of the planet where little information has been recorded, making the Race a crucial platform for collecting data that is otherwise unattainable and filling data gaps, contributing to furthering our understanding of our oceans. 

 

  • The underlying premise for The Ocean Race – circumnavigating the world as fast as possible – means that the race will invariably take boats to areas that are infrequently sailed. 
  • The design of the race route (race legs, race stopovers, etc.) will determine where boats go.
  • Sailing race boats allow access to some of the planet’s most remote seas as well as areas outside common shipping and research routes.

The race’s route, with stopovers in different countries, presented logistical challenges regarding the transportation of scientific equipment to stopover ports as well as the shipment of samples, material, and instruments back to scientific partners. For example, shipments were subject to varying import conditions and customs duties depending on their country of origin and destination. 

 

Working with local scientific institutions helped with equipment, transporting the equipment on person and working diligently with customs before, during and after transport. Logistics for an international science experiment needs to be well planned out in advance and all admin done in advance regarding shipment of equipment and samples etc.

Marine Management

Much support was given to improve fisher capacity to manage their access to and use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). The programme recognised that the establishment of marine managed and protected areas as a method of marine management has resulted in increased reliance on Fish Aggregating Devices installed outside the marine managed and protected areas, for sustenance of the fishery sector.  Fishers within the Carriacou Fisher Folks Inc also recognised this and the need for attention to be paid to the monitoring and management of this resource.  This beckoned the implementation of FAD Data Management training for fishers of Carriacou and Petit Martinique.  The training was facilitated through the Fisheries Department of the Government of Grenada, and included information sharing on, but not limited to data on marine conservation, history of FADs in the region, the importance of data collection, legislation, its challenges, development of informal protocols and rules, identifying fish species as well as data collection methodology and post data collection analysis.  The workshop also realised the commitment of fishers to establish GrenFAD, which will take the leading role in the management of the FADs.  The fishers agreed and signed off on the soft rules for FAD Fishing, membership and FAD fees, data collection, data collection templates and protocols for data collection and management.  Actors in the fishery sector and marine management/protection were also trained in the use of underwater drones for remote sensing. The Programme provided support for construction of at least 6 FADS for the St. Marks fishers in Dominica. In the case of Saint Lucia, the provision of navigational tools to assist in accessing the FAD locations, which are often many miles offshore, and generally speaking to assist with safety at sea.

With increased application of marine management strategies, there has been increased use of FADS to supplement the loss of access to fishing grounds which have been redesignated as protected areas, managed areas or reserves.  Thus, the CATS interventions to improve capacity to manage these FADS were quite opportune in timing, and the fishers were keen on participating in the interventions related to them.  In the case of the ROV’s this improved capacity enabled the beneficiaries to be ready to improve their monitoring efficiency and quality. 

The Programme recognised the need for practical, user-guided solutions and implementations as critical elements for success and long term and far reaching benefits from the same.  With regard to the FAD management and trainings, this process was smoothly executed with fishers taking ownership of this and taking the lead to put arrangements in place to better manage their FADs.

Business and Technical Capacity Development

Building resilience of the agricultural sector against the effects of meteorological variations includes building the resilience of small businesses along the value chains which use the produce from agricultural production.  Through the Business Capacity Development measure, two women-only local agro-processing groups which process local produce for the local and national market, benefitted from theoretical lectures and hands-on exercises on crucial business aspects (costs, revenues, new product ideas, design, marketing and the management of their business) so they could apply the knowledge gained to improve the quality of their decision making.  The core topics addressed during the training were:  Entrepreneurship Essentials, Introduction to Marketing; Basic Book-Keeping Principles; Essential Costing Practices; Office Administration, financial education, business management and investment-driven market expansion and borrowing.

Both groups acknowledged that they did need to improve their operations to achieve business success as their ability to improve sales relies on their being able to overcome hindrances in their daily operations. The capacity building exercise was therefore an opportunity for them to gain skills to help overcome these challenges.   

While these activities assisted the partners in facing, in a practical manner, technical and implementation challenges they would face in their operations there is also need for training in interpersonal engagement eg. Effective communication, conflict resolution, management and other soft skills critical for effectively managing the interpersonal components of business management. 

Youth Engagement

Educational and knowledge exchange programs were used to promote awareness of the importance of effectively managing ecosystems.  By focussing on the younger generation, the Programme sought to incorporate sustainability into its impacts as these youth would be the decisionmakers of the future. Further, there is the observation that children tend to share whatever they have learned with their parents. Thus, it is seen as an opportunity to reach the wider community with information.  Several approaches were executed.  In 2017, the Programme supported the Soufriere Scotts Head Marine Reserve (SSMR) Day in Dominica, a major collaborative effort between local authorities and the CATS programme.  500 primary school students and 81 teachers from 33 primary schools participated in activities that promote the understanding of the ridge to reef concept.  There was also adoption of the Soufriere Primary School as a Reef Guardian School.  This initiative served the dual purpose of educating and raising awareness of students and by extension, their parents, of the ridge to reef concept, and also making teachers more aware of these, so they could better instruct their students.  Also, in Soufriere Saint Lucia, three schools benefitted from support for the establishment of low chemical garden plots to produce food for the School Feeding Programmes embarked on these schools. The garden establishment also involved active participation of the children in the gardening process and revenue generation by the school through sale of excess produce.  This also realised development of management guidelines to be used by the schools for managing their existing plots as well as implementing similar. 

There is increased awareness of the importance of ensuring that the younger generation are fed good quality food.  This in addition to the need for easy access to good quality food secured the buy in needed for the execution of the school food production projects in St. Lucia.  In the case of Dominica, the SSMR Day event was already an initiative implemented by the Fisheries Division for years and thus there was already an appetite in the society for it.  The Reef Guardian programme could be considered an offshoot stimulated by the aforementioned SSMR Day. 

In engaging schools it is critical to incorporate parental support.  This not only is in an effort to ensure their consent, but also to create opportunities for parents to have a better understanding of the information being shared with their children, granted, these concepts are important for societal wellbeing.  They could also provide support for implementation even after the project would have ended.  It was also critical to obtain buy in from the school administrations which would have to put all conditions in place to support the establishment of the initiatives, but also the continuity of the same.

Land Management - Good agricultural practices

The CATS Programme was based on the acknowledgement that good practices within the terrestrial zone augur well for the health of the coasts and marine spaces.  Thus, it worked with practitioners (farmers, foresters, agroprocessors) within this space by teaching and reinforcing good practices that could be incorporated within their operations.  A small group was also taught the specialised skills for mushroom cultivation as an alternative to traditional crop production.  This niche area was anticipated to increase food production diversity as it aligned with the practices of good resource management, recycling of byproducts and resilience.  For practitioners at the management level, the Programme supported the training of various persons in the practical application of Unmanned Aerial Systems for natural resource management and monitoring.  Since CATS Programme’s introduction of this, several other organisations both private and public sector have embarked on similar trainings for their officers. 

Resource management was an area of much focus by various actors within the stakeholder community.  Thus, the challenge of obtaining buy-in and interest was minimal.  Partners already had at least a basic understanding of the importance and relevance of effective resource management and the interconnection between the terrestrial and marine spaces.  Further, given there were several other actors in the technical support and grant sectors with whom it was possible to collaborate to maximise results.  Support from the ministries of agriculture in the various islands was also an enabling factor.  Their technical expertise helped facilitate the implementation of the various initiatives. The ministries were the principal source of technical support for all terrestrial interventions under the programme. With regard to the management level, the actors, particularly in the forestry sector, saw the technology as a very relevant intervention as they were keenly aware of their monitoring limitations and saw the tool as an opportunity to improve the scope and efficiency of their monitoring. 

The incorporation, within farming practice, of non-synthetic inputs for fertility and control of pests and weeds, though widely practiced many decades ago, is now alien to the majority of farmers.  Modern farmers rely on their crop for their livelihoods and have clearly expressed that they are not willing to experiment on their sale crops by incorporating improved practices.  They expressed concern about the risk of diminished crop quality, a situation which would reduce their revenue.  They were unconvinced that they would be able to sustain their livelihoods if they were to change their farming practice to be more environmentally friendly. Thus, and future iterations of projects seeking to improve farm practices would have to incorporate significant investment and focus on demonstration plot establishment, research and development and start-ups.  Despite having gone through a very rigorous process of participant selection for the mushroom cultivation training, it was recognised that the personal economic challenges and ambitions of the participants was an inhibiting factor; although all the trainees were keenly interested in pursuing the business start-up, they were challenged by the need to have secure revenue, and found it easier to continue their modus operandi prior to the training, as opposed to making the sacrifice needed to start the new businesses.  All this was despite the project incorporating in its design access to raw materials needed for production during the initial months of production.  The high-risk aversion of persons being encouraged to start up new businesses needs to be overcome by incorporating even more support mechanisms.  The Programme failed to complete the second phase of the remote sensing training, thus pilots trained and their organisations failed to attain the full support needed to confidently incorporate remote sensing in their operations.  Future such interventions should ensure completion of all necessary phases of support to ensure sustainability.