Lush Malaysia promotes sustainability, ocean conservation

by SUFEA SALEHUDDIN 

LUSH Malaysia has partnered Coralku, a coral restoration and conservation organisation, to support coral reef restoration projects around Pulau Lang Tengah, Terengganu. This collaboration, which began in 2022, aims to restore coral reefs by planting coral fragments and creating the Lush Reef Garden. 

To date, Lush Malaysia has planted 450 coral fragments with Coralku and plans to increase this number significantly. The beauty brand has also given Coralku a grant of RM14,289.80 through its Charity Pot programme, which supports grassroots organisations focused on animal protection, human rights and environmental sustainability. 

Lush Malaysia director Dr Harvinder Harchand said: “Charity Pot is a hand and body lotion designed to support grassroots organisations worldwide. The entire proceeds from Charity Pot sales (minus local taxes) go towards supporting NGOs focused on the environment, against animal testing, or, in our case, coral planting.” 

According to Harvinder, Charity Pot is a hand and body lotion designed to support grassroots organisations worldwide

Although Coralku was the inaugural NGO to partner Lush Malaysia via its Charity Pot programme, the beauty brand welcomes other NGOs to participate in the initiative 

“It’s not just skewed to one. We want more people, we want more NGOs to apply; we want more bodies that are doing good and providing a safe environment for us so that we can help others,” said Harvinder. 

In Malaysia, the Charity Pot has been involved in funding various initiatives, including campaigns for animal welfare and environmental conservation. The grants provided through the Charity Pot can go up to RM15,000. However, the grant amount may vary depend- ing on the strength of the applicant. 

The application process involves detailing the project, its necessity, the target beneficiaries and the budget required. 

One of the key aspects of the Charity Pot programme is its commitment to supporting projects that might not receive support from other traditional funding sources due to their radical approaches or specific focus areas. This ensures that innovative and impactful grassroots initiatives receive the backing they need to make a difference.

The partnership with Coralku involves deploying coral frames to support broken coral fragments and mitigate coral loss. This effort is crucial as coral reefs face severe stress due to rising ocean temperatures and development activities. 

Coralku has been on the island since 2016, officially starting its project in 2021. With the Lush grant given to the NGO, Coralku has been able to conduct research to identify “super corals”. 

Coralku’s initiative on “super corals” aims to tackle the imminent threat of coral extinction caused by rising sea temperatures. 

This project, based in Pulau Lang Tengah, involves the establishment of underwater nurseries where various coral species are grown and studied. 

The research primarily concentrates on identifying “super corals” which are capable of enduring elevated temperatures. These resilient corals undergo rigorous selection, subjected to heat stress tests using the Coral Bleaching Automated Stress System. 

This system measures the resilience of corals by monitoring their microalgae’s photosynthetic efficiency under increased temperatures. Successful specimens are then planted in restoration sites to bolster the reef’s resilience. 

According to Coralku co-founder Natasha Zulaikha Zahirudin, “super corals” are a subset of corals believed to exhibit greater resilience to heat stress compared to others. This research is crucial due to the ongoing climate crisis, which is causing a rise in water and ocean temperatures. 

“With the Lush grant that was given to us, we were able to do this research to find Malaysian ‘super corals’. By identifying the ‘super corals’, we’re trying to determine which corals should be prioritised for coral restoration efforts, focusing on those with a higher likelihood of survival,” she said. 

With the Lush grant given to us, we were able to do this research to find Malaysian ‘super corals’, says Natasha Zulaikha (Pic courtesy of Natasha Zulaikha)

She added that currently, over 70% of the corals in Terengganu are experiencing bleaching. Since 2022, Lush Malaysia has collaborated with Coralku to plant 450 coral fragments, with the goal of expanding this number to establish the Lush Reef Garden. 

“Now the frames are slightly shorter. This allows us to easily bring the frame to the water for the typical coral planting activity. 

“It’s a paid activity, usually for one or two persons, depending on your preference. Each frame accommodates about 25 corals and costs RM250. 

“There isn’t an exact count of how many coral frames have been produced, but it contributes to the ongoing development of the coral garden that Coralku is currently working on,” said Natasha Zulaikha. 

Coralku, in collaboration with marine biologists from Australia, is revolutionising coral restoration in Malaysia with the introduction of coral clips. 

These clips anchor loose coral fragments to stable substrates, helping them grow and thrive. Over 7,000 corals have benefitted from this technique so far. 

The coral clips, costing between A$1 to A$2 (RM6.23) each, ensure corals have a firm hold, which is crucial for their growth. “These clips give the corals something to cling to, which is essential for their survival,” added Natasha Zulaikha. 

Coralku is also training other projects in Langkawi, Kedah, to use these clips. 

“Not all locations are suitable for using this clip, but the primary criterion for its use is the availability of substrate, such as a large, soft stone, that allows for a firm grip,” she said. 

To support this effort, Lush Malaysia recently held its inaugural Lush Malaysia Showcase 2024 at Sunway Pyramid, Subang Jaya, Selangor. This event aimed to promote sustainable consumer practices and raise awareness about the impact of climate change on coral reefs. 

The showcase featured a variety of engaging activities, including interactive displays that allowed attendees to learn about sustainable practices in a hands-on manner. Workshops were conducted to provide deeper insights into environmental conservation and sustainability. 

Additionally, a significant highlight of the event was the Coralku Conservation Booth which served as an educational hub on coral reef ecology and conservation efforts. At the booth, visitors could engage with experts from Coralku to learn about the importance of coral reefs, the threats they face due to climate change and the innovative methods being used to restore and protect these vital marine ecosystems. 


  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition