During the 2018 SIA Congress on Thursday, the AROSSTA project – a cooperation of Van Hall Larenstein and Wageningen Marine Research - won the second prize at the RAAK awards. Within the AROSSTA project, researchers and students work intensively with local organisations on the preservation and restoration of coral reefs at St Eustatius and Saba. The RAAK jury ‘appreciates the great interconnectedness and commitment of all parties, and the way they respond to specific local requirements and simultaneously contribute towards the broad knowledge base in this area’ and awarded the research a great second prize today.
Over the last decades, the coral reefs of the Dutch Caribbean islands of St Eustatius and Saba have seriously deteriorated due to an accumulation of threats. These ecosystems are essential for life in the sea and have economic significance as well. Together with local nature management organisations, the AROSSTA project investigates whether it is possible to restore the ecosystem with artificial reefs. Various types of 'imitation´reefs are used here. Researchers and students of Van Hall Larenstein, Wageningen Marine Research and the Caribean Netherlands Science Institute will investigate and compare the functionality of the various types of artificial reef over a two-year period. This will enable tentative conclusions to be drawn regarding which of the reefs produces the best results.
Diane Keizer-Mastenbroek, member of the executive board of VHL University of Applied Sciences (VHL), is proud of the practical research: 'With this second prize and with no less than two projects in the top 6 of the Netherlands, we show that our research not only has an impact on education and on our students, but also makes a significant social contribution. The Better Wetter project of VHL is also one of the projects nominated for the RAAK awards.'
From the jury report: 'The problem of the erosion of coral reefs occurs at various places in the world and artificial reefs are also deployed elsewhere to stop this process. However, the great strength of this project is that the researchers had a very strong focus on the local context. They work closely with local nature management organisations to this end. Not only do they do this underwater, but above water as well. They consult with each other to determine what is the best solution for this specific area and why. This way, a contribution is made towards scientific knowledge in this field, which is subsequently shared in education via minors, internships and graduation assignments.'
The RAAK jury awards the project the second prize because of the great interconnectedness and commitment of all parties, and the way they respond to specific local requirements and simultaneously contribute towards the broad knowledge base in this area.
The RAAK awards provide a stage for leading practical research at universities of applied sciences. With the prize, the regional body SIA aims to increase the awareness and quality of research at these universities.