Zach Boakes

Zach Boakes, BSc (Hons) Environmental Science, is working to rebuild and preserve a coral reef in Indonesia, complementing other existing projects in North Bali.

The story behind my research has a less than academic setting! 

In May 2016, I was in Bali as a volunteer, teaching children how to play the drums. Whilst I was there, I made friends with a local guy, Ketut, and we began snorkelling together. 

We started discussing our shared interests in marine conservation, and I realised that the north of Bali, where Ketut lives, was in serious need of a reef conservation programme. When I returned to BU, I co-founded Bali Reef Conservation as part of my summer placement.

Since then, I’ve travelled to Bali three times, and I’m now working here for my placement year (thanks to some extra funding from BU towards my flights).

The aim of Bali Reef Conservation is to restore and conserve coral reef in a small Indonesian fishing village called Tianyar. It has been destroyed due to unsustainable fishing practices and excessive boat traffic, so we are building artificial reefs in the area with the aim of connecting two existing health coral reefs. 

We’ve built and deployed over 2,000 artificial reef units already but we also carry out other work, such as plastic recycling programmes, turtle conservation, weekly marine conservation classes with local schools, and beach cleans.

My main role is managing volunteers, fishermen and teachers, ensuring that we have a lot of community engagement with the programme. We work with people, educating them about how to live more sustainably and protect their marine environment. 

My lecturers have been a great support, and I wouldn’t have been able to do this without their help. It’s been an incredible experience, and one that means I have no hesitation in recommending BU!