Coral restoration toolkit for community-based action at the east coast of Sabah

Reef clean-up
  • Country: Malaysia
  • Organisation: Reef Check Malaysia
  • Support area: Conserving biological diversity
  • IKI funding: 132,107 euros
  • Project start: 01/05/2023
  • Project end: 30/04/2025
  • Website:

Sabah in Malaysia is located within the Coral Triangle, a region with one of the highest densities of marine biodiversity in the world. For decades, corals are threatened by destructive fishing practices, pollution, and Crown-of-Thorns outbreaks. This IKI Small Grants project addresses coral reef restoration on three islands in Sabah. The project conducts the necessary training in Sabah to ensure a functioning, community-based coral restoration programme. The programme includes a business plan, that is creating jobs and ensures local ownership for restoration projects and broader reef management efforts.


While coral reef restoration projects have been implemented previously in numerous locations around Malaysia, a review of these projects reveals that many are poorly designed and short-term oriented with little attention to developing long-term strategies. There is almost no data on the success rate of restoration projects and there have been few attempts to scale reef restoration.


The direct project beneficiaries are 15 members of local restoration teams, who receive intensive restoration trainings. Furthermore, awareness programs reach local government agencies, tourists, and the wider public. More widely, all coastal and island communities who depend on marine resources and ecosystem for their livelihoods benefit from the long-term impacts of the coral reef restoration.



This IKI Small Grants project aims to conserve marine biodiversity through sustainable, community-based coral reef restoration. Coral reef restoration projects have been implemented previously in numerous locations around Malaysia. A review of these projects reveals that many were insufficiently designed, and efforts are short-term, with little attention paid to develop long-term strategies.

In 2022, Reef Check Malaysia developed a coral restoration toolkit and a good practices manual on restoration methodologies with funding from the Malaysia National Conservation Trust Fund. It designed a training for islanders along the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

In this project, trainings are expanded to three locations on Sabah Island to ensure a functioning restoration programme. The programme includes a business plan to ensure long-term sustainability. Reef Check Malaysia thus uses a tested, proven approach to reef restoration that can be used to scale up restoration to a national level.

The project further trains local stakeholders on three islands to manage and maintain restoration projects over the long term, creating jobs and local ownership for restoration projects and broader reef management efforts.

Last, the project implements restoration projects at three sites on each island, in which coral fragments are harvested to be attached to the restoration sites. Mostly recently damaged corals at their local sites are restored.


IKI Small Grants supports Reef Check Malaysia in their organisational capacity development through trainings in:

  • Advanced grant proposal writing
  • Presentation and negotiation skills
  • Gender transformative project design and
  • Community consultation techniques


Reef Check Malaysia is a non-profit organisation committed to healthy oceans. We create impact by partnering with local communities, government agencies and the private sector to protect and conserve marine ecosystems. Since it was registered in 2007, Reef Check Malaysia has become established as a leader in coral reef conservation in Malaysia. Its activities are organised around four core programmes:

  • EcoAction: training survey divers and conducting coral reef surveys at over 200 locations around Malaysia to monitor coral reef health
  • Management: working with stakeholders to improve the management of coral reefs in Malaysia to secure long term conservation goals
  • Science: conducting studies on reef resilience and rehabilitation to better understand coral reefs and impacts
  • Advocacy: raising awareness of the importance of coral reefs and the valuable ecosystem services they provide.