Executive summary

Reef-Keepers is an interactive education platform that teaches students of all ages how to enhance marine and terrestrial ecosystems through citizen science, everyday citizens engaging in effective, hands-on restoration and conservation activities.

Throughout the Reef-Keepers experience, scientific concepts that support ecosystem restoration and conservation are clearly explained. Participants are encouraged to associate ecosystem health with quality of life, socio-economic opportunity and public health. Participants are also taught how to effectively communicate the relevance and impact of restoration and conservation activities using social media and face-to-face knowledge transfers to family, friends, and communities interested in enhancing ecological conditions.

As a programme template, Reef-Keepers has demonstrated a capacity for self-funding, and can be tailored to meet unique local and regional environmental requirements. ​Strategic priorities and results of the Reef-Keepers platform include:

  1. ​Engaging citizen scientists in fun yet effective restoration and conservation activities,
  2. ​Quantifying project impacts on targeted ecosystems, species richness and diversity,
  3. Informing policy,
  4. ​Facilitating change in human behaviours associated with ecosystem impact,
  5. Reducing dependence on government funding,
  6. Incorporating Reef-Keepers into New Zealand’s National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA) standards for Environmental Sustainability – Science,
  7. ​Increasing access to seafood as a source of nutrition,
  8. Reducing harvesting costs in response to target species abundance,
  9. ​Creating educational materials to support knowledge and methodology transfers, and
  10. ​Defining the host organisation’s cultural reputation on the world stage as a leader in ecosystem restoration and conservation.

Reef-Keepers was founded in 2015 by Charley Waters, PhD, from the University of Auckland, Institute of Marine Science, New Zealand. For more information, contact him at Charleywaters@gmail.com.