Community work on marine conservation recognized

29 Aug 2008

Three countries in the Pacific have been recognized globally for outstanding community marine conservation work. 

Arnavon Community Marine Conservation Area of the Solomon Islands, the Nguna-Pele Marine Protected Area of Vanuatu and the Conservation Society of Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia were chosen by the Equator Initiative Technical Advisory Committee as one of the 25 winners of the Equator Prize 2008, for providing a strong demonstration of the inventiveness of community-based work undertaken in the Pacific often against tremendous odds.

The Equator Initiative is a partnership that brings together the United Nations, civil society, businesses, Governments and communities to help build the capacity and raise the profile of grassroots people in an effort to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Each winner will receive USD5,000 and a Certificate of Achievement to be presented at the Equator Prize Award Ceremony in Barcelona, Spain on 6th October, 2008. As contenders, an additional USD15, 000 will be awarded at the same event to five special recognized initiatives that represent the most outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty and conserve biodiversity in the equatorial belt. The ceremony is part of the Equator Initiative participation in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress taking place in Barcelona from 06th to 10th October.

Background information
The Nguna-Pele Marine Protected Area is a local non government organization made up of 16 island communities dedicated to the protection and conservation of marine resources. The chiefs and people of the member communities have set aside a significant area of village-owned reef to be considered tabu or permanently off-limits to serve as a resource factory. Each community has selected one or two volunteer MPA Staff members to conduct regular reef surveys, tag sea turtles and plant coral and run continous environmental awareness sessions. http://www.marineprotectedarea.com.vu/

In 1991, at the invitation of three nearby villages on Choiseul and Santa Isabel islands and in partnership with the Solomon Islands government, The Nature Conservancy began work to establish the Arnavon Islands Marine Conservation Area the first community-managed marine conservation project in the entire South Pacific. Its Management Committee, which includes two representatives from each of the three villages, is the primary partner organization for the Conservancy. http://www.nature.org

The Conservation Society of Pohnpei was founded in 1998 by a group of concerned citizens and aims to increase community involvement in the conservation and management of Pohnpei's natural resources; to build local capacity through public and private partnerships, to develop alternatives to unsustainable practices and to promote laws and policies that support these objectives. It presently has three main programme areas : marine, terrestrial and education. http://www.serehd.org/