Interview with Patricia Aublet, co-founder of PUR Projet

The marine ecosystem and coral reefs: choosing a holistic approach

Interview with Patricia Aublet, co-founder of PUR Projet

Eau Thermale Avène is committed to applying its sun protection expertise to the skin while working to reduce the impact of its products on ecosystems. To go even further and help restore the marine environment, Eau Thermale Avène has partnered up with PUR Projet since 2016, a specialist in climate action, working in Bali. Patricia Aublet, co-founder of PUR Projet, talks to us.

What does PUR Projet do?

Our purpose is to regenerate ecosystems, with the help of local actors, to reconcile humans and nature. To do this, we help companies develop climate projects in line with their value chain. Given the social and environmental qualities of Eau Thermale Avène, it was obvious that we could build a programme together.

The purpose of PUR Projet is to regenerate ecosystems and to reconcile humans and nature.

Patricia Aublet
Patricia AubletCo-founder of PUR Projet

PUR Projet was previously more specialised in reforestation, how did this project to safeguard the marine ecosystem come about?

In 2016, Eau Thermale Avène was keen to support a project directly linked to the element Water. At the same time, a scientific publication by an Italian researcher denounced the impact of sun filters on coral. Together, we therefore wanted to take up the challenge: launch a programme to restore the marine ecosystem through the coral. A key player in biodiversity, as crucial as trees. Over 3,000 fish species and nearly 120 million inhabitants depend on it. However, some studies show that 3% of coral die each year and at that rate, coral reefs may disappear by 2100. Eau Thermale Avène was already working to minimise the impact of its sun filters and formulas on marine ecosystems, this was one way of going a step further.

Over 3,000 fish species and nearly 120 million inhabitants depend on coral.

How did you work on location to protect the coral reef?

We chose to launch the PUR Corail programme in Pejarakan on the island of Bali in Indonesia as the village is located in the coral golden triangle, a region recognised for its high concentration of coral. But between cyanide fishing and global warming, these organisms are visibly bleaching. We met the inhabitants and organisations on location to better understand their issues. Then we co-constructed a rigorous protocol: implementation and comparison of several coral grafting techniques and measurements of their impacts. As always, we trained the inhabitants, to make them autonomous.

What difficulties did you face?

We quickly realised that we could replant corals but grafting is not enough. If you don't act on plastic pollution and soil erosion from land deforestation at the same time, it doesn't work. To be effective, a holistic approach was necessary. In 2018, we therefore launched a waste management project and a programme for replanting mangroves on the coast.

Were there any results?

Eight months later, 280 families were included in the programme and nearly 10 tonnes of waste were already harvested and injected into recycling channels. We have made the various populations aware of sorting rubbish, provided residents with a recycling platform and special bins. At the same time, we started planting mangroves to prevent coastal soil erosion. Within a few months, nearly 7,000 mangroves were planted thanks to Eau Thermale Avène.

Simply grafting coral is not enough, to be effective, we also need to act on plastic pollution and combat soil erosion.

Where do you see your work on this sustainable project going?

We will continue to graft corals at Pejarakan to expand their area and if possible, spread to other parts of the globe. On land, we are testing a new method of planting mangroves. In the end, it seems more relevant to directly plant the propagules (mangrove seedlings) taken from the mangrove forests in the plantation area, without prior growth in a nursery. In terms of waste, we still have work to do with identifying the different types of waste and existing recycling systems. We are also thinking of focusing more on collections from hotels and restaurants. And of course, we will continue to develop campaigns to raise awareness, inform, and training among the inhabitants – key aspects of this type of project.