In the Pacific, and in collaboration with Protected Area Working Group partners, BIOPAMA is taking the lead responsibility for developing the Pacific Islands Region Strategy and Action Plan for Capacity Development in Protected and Other Conserved Areas 2015-2020. The strategy and action plan are closely aligned with key principles and directions being established under a new global capacity development framework by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), but tailored to specifically address the distinctive issues, needs and opportunities that occur in the Pacific region. The strategy and action plan are available at this link.
The Capacity Development for Protected and Other Conserved Areas in the Pacific Islands Region, Strategy and Action Framework 2015-2020 has just been launched and it is the result of a joint effort by the Pacific BIOPAMA programme represented by IUCN and regional partners and stakeholders. This strategic document is an important tool for strengthening capacity and proposes a targeted set of actions that are pertinent for the next five years in the context of protected and other conserved areas management in the Pacific. It is also a significant resource to emerge to come from the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation and reflects the collaborative nature of this forum.
STRENGTHENING COOPERATION BETWEEN LARGE MARINE PROTECTED AREAS (17 December 2015)
The Pacific Islands region has responsibility for 10% of the global ocean surface and hosting the world's largest tuna stocks. Currently, marine protected areas cover just over 2% of the world’s oceans, and only about 1% is strongly protected in no-take marine reserves. In this context, small Pacific Island states with massive ocean territory are taking a global leadership position by establishing and effectively managing large scale marine protected areas and others are making similar pledges. Continue reading
PARTNERING FOR IMPROVED PROTECTED AREA INFORMATION (27 October 2015)
In the Pacific, the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) programme comes across a number of national and regional projects that have similar aims, particularly for improving the standard of baseline information about protected areas. This feature highlights aspects of the breadth of interaction, trust building and benefits evidence required in order to develop information access and sharing arrangements, supported by a specific example of collaboration between projects and actors in the Solomon Islands. Read more
A series of Pacific regional workshops and gatherings provided an important opportunity to review and enhance the frame for the Pacific protected area agenda, with the participation of numerous regional partners, IUCN commissions and members. The Protected Areas Working Group and the IUCN Regional Conservation Forum represented the occasion to directly engage with the Pacific stakeholders on BIOPAMA initiatives and invite input, exchange and collaboration.
- New direction for capacity development in protected areas in the next 10 years (3 August 2015)
- Pacific protected and other conserved areas agenda advanced at key regional fora (24 July 2015)
- Pacific Protected Area Partnership Reinvigorated (22 April 2015)
- Pacific Islands Community Co-Adaptive Management Course (PICCC), (17 March - 13 April 2015, Fiji)
- BIOPAMA Observatories update (April 2015)
- BIOPAMA supports WDPA (3 April 2015)
- Perspective: Ensuring a promising future for the Pacific (27 January 2015)
- BIOPAMA at the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 (12-19 November 2014)
- Training to increase protection of natural resources (Solomon Islands, 6-11 October 2014 and Fiji, 13-18 October 2014)
- IBIS: Building knowledge on invasive alien species (2 October 2014)
- Launch of the BIOPAMA Pacific Regional Observatory for Protected Areas and Biodiversity, hosted by SPREP (10 September 2014)
- Canoe voyage delivering key messages about protected areas to the IUCN WPC 2014, with BIOPAMA support (2 September 2014)
- BIOPAMA gains momentum at Pacific Islands Fora: the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas , the CBD capacity building workshop for the Pacific on ecosystem conservation and restoration, and the UNESCO Pacific World Heritage Workshop (Fiji, November-December 2013)
- Launch of the call for expression of interest to host the BIOPAMA Observatory for the Pacific (Deadline: 31 January 2014)
- Recruitment of a BIOPAMA focal point for the Pacific, Tony O'Keeffe (September 2013)
- BIOPAMA Regional Inception Workshop for the Pacific (Fiji; February 2013)
- BIOPAMA Global Inception Workshop (March 2012)
The Oceania region covers over 100 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean. Mostly vast ocean expanses, the small Pacific island countries and territories comprise only 2% of the regional area. The Pacific has three recognized global biodiversity hotspots: East Melanesia, New Caledonia and Polynesia-Micronesia, as well as numerous ‘cool spots’ of high regional significance.
The region’s natural heritage unfolds as a rich ecological canvas spanning mountain rainforests and cloud forests, lowland rainforests and open woodlands to open grass savannahs, mangrove and littoral forests, salt marshes and mudflats, freshwater lakes and streams, coastal marine ecosystems and seagrass beds, as well as fringing and barrier reefs and deep ocean areas. The thousands of rocky islets, coral atolls and volcanic islands of the Pacific region host exceptionally high numbers of plant and bird species found nowhere else on earth. However, small islands and their inhabitants have evolved in isolation and are naturally vulnerable when exposed to new ecological threats, such as invasive species and rapid shifts in climate.
Communities in the Pacific are highly dependent on land, coastal and marine resources that form an intrinsic part of their culture, tradition, history, way of life and livelihoods. Any loss of biodiversity has negative effects on food and energy security, health and material wealth and the adequate functioning of ecosystems. It also influences social structures and behaviours.
Main threats and challenges
Some 10 million people live throughout the Pacific island countries and territories of Oceania, with population growth high at over 3%. Moving away from rural and coastal living leads to a reduction in historical and cultural connections to the environment and traditional subsistence practices.
Climate change is arguably the main environmental threat facing the region. Rising sea levels, intensifying storms and ocean acidification are already altering ecosystems and human lifestyles at a noticeable rate.
Overexploitation of natural resources, such as deep sea and coastal fisheries and timber, occurs with limited monitoring of impact. An increase in terrestrial and marine mining interests, commercial scale agriculture and infrastructure development results in habitat degradation and loss. Compounding impacts on natural systems occur when invasive species gain a foothold and quickly out-compete local species that are already struggling under a variety of environmental pressures.
Human and financial resources for natural resource management are limited, a result of high population growth coupled with low economic growth. Governments in the Pacific are also small, resulting in limited human resource capacity.
Protected areas in the Pacific region
While a few Pacific countries are making great strides toward achieving their terrestrial and marine protected area targets, the average regional protected area coverage is below target and often does not coincide with the most important biodiversity areas. National system planning for protected areas is limited in most countries and management resources and capacity is generally inadequate.
Protected areas in the Pacific region exist under a variety of IUCN categories, tenure and governance models, and other effective conservation measures, and include: formal national reserves and marine parks; customary ownership; recreation, forest and heritage reserves; water catchment and other infrastructure holdings, and privately owned and tourism related areas.
Most significantly, communities in the region, who in most cases are customary owners of the land, inshore areas and natural resources therein, are the lynchpin in achieving wise resource management. This type of conservation practice is well exemplified by the extensive networks of locally managed coastal and marine areas. Some 12,000sq km of community based systems of marine resource management involving over 500 communities in 15 countries and territories contribute to livelihood and conservation objectives based on traditional knowledge and customary tenure and governance.
Against a background of customary use and limited national government resources, the development of suitable co- management arrangements will be an important focus for countries attempting to meet their CBD commitments. Notably, some Pacific countries are making impressive steps to assigning protection status over their marine Exclusive Economic Zones – areas over which they have direct governance powers.