Programme Introduction

The Bertarelli Foundation established their marine science programme in 2017 to advance our understanding of large marine protected areas so they can be better managed. This programme is an endorsed action of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030.

The programme focuses on the Indian Ocean, where we address the protection of marine biodiversity and securing ocean health, and use science to inform management and conservation in the region.

The programme involves 73 researchers from 22 institutions and 11 countries. Projects are collaborative and interdisciplinary and each of them includes regional partners from the Indian Ocean.

We have a strong emphasis on effective and innovative communication, capacity building and increasing regional opportunities and access to marine science. 90 students have been trained to date, with 30 currently in training (22 PhD, 8 MSc) and the 7 most recent students coming from the Indian Ocean region. 149 peer-reviewed publications have been produced by the programme since 2018.

Science from the programme leads to conservation action, for example:

  • The link between healthy islands and healthy reefs has prompted plans for rat eradication and native vegetation restoration to improve seabird populations and coral reef health.
  • Social science research in fishing communities in Sri Lanka and India identified the motivation behind poaching in the Chagos Archipelago to guide enforcement and suitable deterrents.
  • Tracking data from sea turtles identified a migration corridor that was recognised and built into international policy.
  • Studies of seabirds within the archipelago led to redefining Important Bird Areas (terrestrial and marine).
  • Documenting corals through marine heatwaves has shown the resilience and recovery of different species in the absence of other pressures, informing reef conservation more widely.
  • Investigating the impact of plastic pollution on sea turtles has informed a beach cleaning strategy on Diego Garcia and a feasibility study of new technologies for marine plastic litter that has application for other UKOTs.

Programme Management

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has managed this extensive programme of science since 2017.

Led by Prof. Heather Koldewey, with support from Rachel Jones, Coretta Granberry and Emma Levy, ZSL is a key partner in this highly collaborative programme and has been instrumental in facilitating the programme’s scientific advances.

Our Partners

Governmental Organisations
Scientific Partners