Episode 4- From surfer to nomad, to restoring Bali’s oceans & welcoming volunteers from all over the World.

With Zach Boakes

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About Zach Boakes

Zach Boakes is marine biologist, currently living in northern Bali in a village called Tianyar, north east Bali, currently writing his PHD on the study of coral rehabilitation. Zach first came to Bali as a passionate surfer turned fresh-faced drum teacher and integrated into a remote Balinese community untouched by tourism, soon realizing that there was a great need to protect local coral reefs which had been degraded.

Zach set up North Bali Reef Conservation, which is a nonprofit NGO founded in 2017, working with the local community and local fishermen, training them to be stewards of local marine wildlife. One of the main aims of his research is to study pro-environmental behavior, analyzing what tends to encourage somebody to do something towards caring for the environment. With the support of local village leaders, the project is now employing local villagers as tour guides and diving instructors, there is accommodation for over 50 volunteers.

Zach discusses how one of the keys to success of a local marine based NGO was the integration of local community fishermen in this project. They needed to feel like they were owners of a project and one of the best ways to incentivize them. With now more than 9,000 structures built, Zach is in the process of monitoring how fast wildlife returns and corals grow, and has just published his first paper entitled ‘Coral reef conservation in Bali in light of international best practice, a literature review’. Through his research, he is proving that developing these sort of Marine-protected areas, not only has a localized benefit to the ecology, but also to the local people that depend on these species for their survival, and that it really does work.

Through this NGO, waste management is also being tackled with a small local plastic recycling centre aiming to avoid the daily burning of plastic litter.

‘My experience is working on a local scale. From my experience, working with communities is the way forward through education, through direct activism work, through empowering them to create change.’ Zach Boakes