Each project is totally different, and all are done on a shoestring with not nearly enough funds. Usually we only get in-kind donations of materials, room and board, and if we are lucky a ticket to get there.
The costs for any project are very dependent on its size and many site-specific factors that must be assessed beforehand and incorporated into the design before we can come up with a budget. Up until now all our support has come from local groups, and except for one project in the Turks and Caicos Islands, they have never been funded by any government or large funding agency. Typical small pilot projects are done for a few hundred to thousands of dollars for all materials and equipment, but that does not include our travel, room and board. If we were paid for our time in a way consistent with our skills and knowledge, it would be much more. We plan to stop doing little projects except with community-based groups, and focus on large funded projects in the future, but that has not yet happened. 99% of the people who request our help do not follow through once they realize that there is a real cost for materials and equipment and that they should pay for our expenses and time (they think we are rich and expect us to pay). The best way volunteers can help is to develop projects by going back to the sites they dive and talk to the hotels and dive shops to convince them that they need to start restoring their degraded reef. Ask them to contact us. We'll work with all serious partners who want more corals, more fishes, and more beaches. How can I volunteer to help GCRA reef restoration projects?.
We are constantly developing coral reef restoration, fisheries restoration, shore protection, ecotourism, mariculture, and oyster restoration projects all over the world.
When projects come through they usually are very small and happen on very short notice. Local groups find the money for a ticket and materials, and provide us a bed and food. We almost never get paid. The volunteers on these projects are almost all locals. The vast majority of these projects are initiated by local people who find us because they remember how their reef used to be, realize it is almost gone, want it back, recognize that any funding from outside will be too late, and that they only thing they can do to make a difference is to grow more corals themselves right away. These situations do not lend themselves to outside volunteers because these projects rarely can be organized long in advance, and anyway our key task is to train locals to care for or maintain the project, because this is the key to long term success, and outside volunteers (including us) will not stay for that. We have trained hundreds of people, mostly Indonesian students, but until governments and funding agencies fund large scale reef restoration, there will be no jobs for our students, marine biologists, and divers to use their skills and knowledge to grow reefs back. Only such funding will allow large projects to be organized ahead of time in a way in which outside volunteers would be useful in the construction and installation phase, although our focus must be on developing long-term local skills. We are also trying to develop commercial projects for the technology (for example shore protection, fisheries, artificial islands, etc.) in which trained people could be paid rather than using volunteers. We know that divers around the world love coral reefs and want to help restore them. And many of our students want to work with local communities to restore their corals and fisheries. Around once a year we do hold training workshops in reef restoration. Watch our website for more details.