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Mars Coral Reef

THE BIG BUILD: The World’s Largest Coral Reef Restoration Event

The Big Build brought together over 100 participants from 17 conservation and science partners across government, NGO, business sectors, and local communities to plant 30,000 corals and rebuild a 2,500 square meter reef, in just 4 days.

Here at Mars Sustainable Solutions, we are so proud to announce the success of one of the largest single restoration events in history, “The Big Build”, planting 30,000 corals across 2,500 square meters, working towards our goal of restoring 1 million corals worldwide by the end of 2023. The event has taken more than a year in planning and marks a huge milestone in coral reef restoration and the Mars Coral Reef Restoration Program by showcasing what can be achieved through cross-sector collaboration.

The Big Build transported us back to the origins of the program and our flagship restoration site, in the Spermonde Archipelago, Indonesia – at the heart of one of the most diverse and biologically complex areas on the planet, The Coral Triangle. The event brought together over 100 participants from 17 Indonesian conservation and science partners across government, NGO, business sectors, and local communities, demonstrating and championing the importance of partnerships to achieve large-scale coral restoration.

So, what does the world’s largest coral reef restoration event look like?

Day One: We kicked off the Big Build by bringing all participants together with an opening ceremony including a Reef Star ribbon cutting moment, welcome speeches, a traditional Indonesian dance, interviews, and a refresher MARRS restoration training session.

Day Two: Time to move from above to below water as the restoration began. We set off in a flotilla to the iconic Hope Reef, located next to Bontosua Island. With the support of over 100 members of the local community, Reef Stars were prepared with coral fragments and then shuttled over to the restoration site. Within one dive, five build teams had completed the restoration build, installing the first batch of Big Build Reef Stars. The day was wrapped up by copious doughnuts and a debriefing which was filled with build reviews, constant laughter, and a healthy dose of friendly competition between teams.

Day Three: Time to repeat day two and get back out to the reef! The flotilla set off again and we joined the local community in the water to prepare the final Reef Stars. After a successful shuttle and two dives, all build teams had completed the final restoration build. The day three debrief was a huge celebration and a reflection of what can be achieved through the power of partnerships - 30,000 coral fragments out planted, and roughly 2,500 square meters of reef restored!

Day Four: The final day on the water. Once the teams had reviewed their builds and checked the quality of the restoration, it was time to celebrate by visiting the iconic Hope Reef, showcasing what four-year-old restoration looks like. The day was a true reminder of what you can achieve when you chose to walk together, rather than alone.

To commemorate the four days, we closed out the Big Build with a final ceremony, thanking everyone for their partnership, offering certificates to all the incredible volunteers who helped make the event run so smoothly and celebrating the incredible achievements from the past few days.

Whilst this event has been over a year in the planning, it truly has been over 15 years in the making as it stands on the shoulders of the broader Mars Coral Reef Restoration Program, which was initiated in 2006. Since then, Mars, alongside partners, has expanded the program to 30 reef sites across ten countries, installing more than 60,000 Reef Stars, incorporating 900,000 coral fragments. Together, we can collectively create a better future for the coral reefs that Indonesia, and the rest of the world, rely upon.