Surveying in Atauro. Credit: Blue Ventures, Christina Saylor

​Supporting local communities in Timor-Leste to protect and manage areas of exceptional marine biodiversity

Organization Blue Ventures
Realm Australasia

The Project Marketplace is organized by the major terrestrial realms divided into 14 biogeographical regions – N. America, Subarctic America, C. America, S. America, Afrotropics, Indomalaya, Australasia, Oceania, Antarctica, and the Palearctic realm, which coincides with Eurasia and is divided into Subarctic, Western, Central, Eastern, and Southern regions.

Project Type Nature Conservation

There are five main project categories: Energy Transition focuses on renewable energy access and energy efficiency. Nature Conservation includes wildlife habitat protection and ecosystem restoration, as well as Indigenous land rights. Regenerative Agriculture supports farmers, ranchers and community agriculture. Climate Change covers global science efforts, climate adaptation, and social justice work.

Status Open

Seed indicates an early stage project that needs some level of support to develop into a larger funding proposal. Open indicates any project that needs core programmatic funding. MRV indicates an existing project that is seeking funding for measurement, reporting and verification. Urgent indicates a short-term project initiated in response to a natural disaster or other impending risk. Network indicates a collaborative effort across a specific subrealm focusing on capacity building.

Funding Level $

A single $ indicates a small project requiring $50,000 or less.

This project is working to support local communities in Timor-Leste to protect and manage areas of exceptional marine biodiversity, through providing the skills needed to monitor reef health, which will inform community marine conservation management measures and build local leadership for conservation. 

The island nation of Timor-Leste lies at the heart of the Coral Triangle, a 6-million square-kilometre area of the western Pacific Ocean, which is recognised as the global epicentre of tropical marine biodiversity. The waters around Timor-Leste are home to a staggering diversity of threatened marine species including reptiles, corals, fish, whales and dolphins, and invertebrates. Timor-Leste is a recognised global cetacean hotspot, with exceptional diversity and abundance of whales and dolphins, and a third of the world’s cetacean species found here. 

Credit: Blue Ventures

Prior to Covid-19, an ecotourism-based social enterprise collected essential data that supported Blue Ventures’ conservation programmes, and informed local efforts to protect coral reefs, seagrasses and fisheries. Devastation to the country’s ecotourism industry has led to a shift to 100% Timorese-led data-collection, putting the data-collection and analysis directly in the hands of the community. 

To achieve this, at least seven community members from villages in Atauro island need to attain proficiency and certifications in snorkel-based or SCUBA diving based monitoring and data collection techniques. Following an initial training period of developing in-water confidence and swimming skills, trainees will work towards obtaining diving certification and fisheries and ecological monitoring skills. 

Once this training is completed, Atauro Island in Timor-Leste will have the first local marine reserve monitoring team trained and ready to support local conservation efforts, helping communities to make informed decisions about ocean protection, and supporting training of other communities throughout Timor-Leste. 

Sponsoring Organization