Conserving mangrove forests in the Pacific

Conserving mangrove forests in the Pacific

23 June 2011

The meeting of the national coordinators of the IUCN Mangroves Ecosystem for Climate Change and Livelihoods (MESCAL) project took place from 6-8 June 2011 at the offices of IUCN Oceania in Fiji.The MESCAL project focuses on activities in 5 Pacific Island Countries (Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and Samoa) to address key challenges to mangrove management and conservation. The main objective of Ramsar/SPREP’s participation at this meeting was to follow up on progress of the project and to ensure that MESCAL activities fit with the new Regional Wetlands Action Plan for Pacific Islands.

Members of the PMI Steering Committee

Apart from project administration issues, other key issues were discussed at this meeting. One was the need to have baseline national data collected (mangrove extent, distribution, condition etc.) through the project and the consideration of the regional mangrove monitoring manual and regional mangrove database as the regional depository for this national data, both of which have already been developed by SPREP.

Participants of the MESCAL project meeting in the IUCN Oceania offices

An informal meeting was held on 7 June with Ms. Tavenisa Luisa of the Fiji National Ramsar Administrative Authority (Fiji Environment Department) to discuss Ramsar implementation matters in the country.

An informal meeting was also held with the Ms. Rolenas Baereleo from Vanuatu Environment Department (Vanuatu being one of the non-Contracting Parties in the Pacific), to provide further information about the Ramsar Convention and the process of accession. The latter focused especially on the need for raising national and local stakeholder awareness about the importance of wetlands and the Ramsar Convention through consultations. Discussions were also held on the process of nominating Crab Bay as the first Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Site) in Vanuatu when they accede to the Convention.

Vai Jungblut (Ramsar Officer Oceania) explaining to Ms. Rolenas Baelero (Vanuatu Env Department) the process of accession and designating Ramsar Sites)

The inaugural meeting of the Steering Committee for the Pacific Mangrove Initiative (PMI) took place on 9 June 2011.The PMI is an umbrella partnership-based initiative of IUCN for supportive mangrove conservation in the context of coastal zone management for climate change adaptation and sustainable livelihoods. This first meeting was attended by representatives from the 5 MESCAL countries. Other organisations that were represented included the University of the South Pacific, WWF, UNDP and WorldFish. A number of issues were discussed at this meeting, including the following:

  • The need to widen the PMI partnership to include the active participation of all relevant organisations and other Pacific Islands that have mangroves;
  • The new Regional Wetlands Action Plan;
  • Bringing in the green economy issue;
  • The need for an effective regional mangrove database;
  • Funding opportunities for the initiative;
  • A similar initiative dealing with seagrasses.

Report by Vainuupo Jungblut, Ramsar Officer, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Apia, Samoa