Day 4 - March 22
Wednesday, March 22: Island Biodiversity DAy
Wednesday, March 22, 2006 marked the first of two thematic days at the Community Taba. Today’s theme was ‘Island Biodiversity’, and the morning session set the tone for the day with three separate presentations that were delivered by representatives from The Republic of Palau, the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, and Auckland, New Zealand. The morning session concluded with a visit to the Taba space by the Governor of Paraná, Chefia do Poder Executivo Roberto Requião de Mello e Silva, before breaking for lunch. A more detailed summary of the morning’s events can be found below.
Announcments: Donato Bumacas, from KAMICYDI (Philippines) called Taba to order with a Filipino gong, and then the day began with several announcements from Esther Mwaura-Muiru, of GROOTS Kenya. First, Esther asked Taba participants who are traveling internationally for the first time, and may be experiencing difficulties (logistic or otherwise) to come forth in the Taba, so that the community, or Taba staff, can work to resolve specific problems. In addition, Esther announced that Brazil Telecom, in the Expo Trade Exhibition Space, is providing free, international phone calls (limited to three minutes), for Taba participants who might like to call home. Esther also announced the opportunity for Taba participants to spend time in the Equator Initiative booth, as a way to reach out to the COP8 delegates and visitors. Finally, Taba participants who would like to go on the field trip to the Cananeia Oyster Producers Cooperative should sign up with Suzanne Ruehle.
Opening Presentation to the Taba: Pippa Heylings from TAFICOPA and SPREP (two groups that were instrumental in organizing the Island Biodiversity Thematic Day) introduced Edna Marajoara from the Cooperativa Ecológica das Mulheres Extrativistas do Marajó. Edna represented her community of cooperative women gathers from the Marajoara Islands, Brazil in the COP on Monday. Edna’s island is located in the Amazon River Delta, and is home to approximately 450,000 people. The islands are environmenatlly protected via their designation as non-extraction areas. Edna’s cooperative group uses age-old traditions to extract oils, which are used for a variety of medicinal and cosmetic purposes, from trees in the Amazon River Delta. However, as businesses have recognized the commercial value of the products that can be extracted from the Amazon River Delta, indigenous peoples have been excluded from this region. Now, rather than being allowed to extract oils from the forest, the women must wait for driftwood on the water. In addition to the issue of land access, Edna reported that current drought conditions and an impending construction project are likely to promote extreme, impoverished conditions within her community.
In a meeting in Grenada, where documents were being drafted for the COP8, Edna demanded that indigenous people are represented, so that the needs of people with historical land tenure and traditional knowledge are heard. Enda emphatically stated that this demand must be heard by the policy makers within the COP8, because after the delegations within the COP leave Curitiba, the indigenous people, as well as the issues that they are dealing with, will be left behind.
Report of Key Challenges and Solutions Identified Thus Far by the Taba Participants :
Esther next introduced Willy Kostka, Executive Director of the Conservation Society of Pohnpei, who briefly recapped the rich discussions that have taken place during the first two days of the Taba .
The Taba participants identified several key challenges to the conservation of biodiversity, such that local communities are able to benefit from the sustainable management of resources. These include:
- issues associated with land tenure
- political instability
- the basic capacity of local communities to be able to take care of their resources
- difficulties associated with establishing and organizing learning exchanges
- issues associated with sustainable financing
- difficulties associated with establishing meaningful government-community partnerships
Willy continued by noting that several communities have been quite successful in meeting these challenges (as reported in the Taba space). Nonetheless, successes remain isolated examples of sustainable management by local communities, rather than a general rule. Some of the key factors that have been noted these success stories include:
- partnerships between local communities and large NGOs: Such partnerships have provided tangible results and achievements at the community level. Participants noted that results were most likely to be realized when the methodologies proposed were understood by local communities.
- government support and collaboration, such that the government recognizes local communities as true partners in the sustainable management of natural resources
- learning exchanges between communities
- recognition of traditional / community leaders for their critical role in resource management
- clearly defined responsibilities between local communities and their partner NGOs or government associations
- some measure of self sufficiency, such that communities do not rely exclusively on outside support
- political stability
- clearly defined roles of partners institutions (government and NGO)
- education and outreach
- combination of traditional management with modern science and technology
- identifying and fostering the development of individuals who are champions of the environment within their local community
Willy concluded by stating that these issues, challenges and solutions should all be considered when drafting the Community Taba Declaration, which should include clear commitments to specific goals on the part of the Taba participants.
Plenary Overview: Pippa Heylings (IUCN) and Kate Brown (SPREP) opened the plenary by thanking the Equator Initiative for providing space in the Community Taba for an Island Biodiversity Day. Addressing the conservation and biodiversity issues that are specific to island nations are critical to all members of the CBD, as well as to achieving the 2010 target. Pippa announced that the draft document of the CBD on the issue of island biodiversity notes that full participation of island communities is critical to successful conservation initiatives. Yesterday (Tuesday) at the COP8, almost all nations expressed support for the draft document. The messages that come out of the Taba space can help to move the document forward and define the island conservation program in subsequent years.
Plenary Presentations to the Taba
Presentation #1: Adalbert Eledui, Republic of Palau, ‘Sustainable Management on Islands’
Palau is the western-most island in the western Pacific, and is a mere 80km away from the world center of marine biodiversity (Indonesia). The state of Koror, within the Republic of Palua, is a small island state, 642 km2, with 1.6 km2 of mangroves, 58 marine lakes and 6 conservation areas. Koror encompasses 90% of all dive sites in Palua, and is thus a tourist center for the Republic.
Due to the number of unique and endemic species in Palau, a resource management plan was developed to ensure the sustainable use of resources and the protection of Palau’s biodiversity, geography and culture. However, the production and implementation of the management plan is challenged by the variety of uses of the small state of Koror, and the increasing demands of various stakeholders. In addition, threats from climate change and invasive species further complicate the sustainable use of Koror’s resources. Despite these challenges, the vision of the Palauan people is to ‘maintain the spectacular beauty and the abundant and diverse natural resources of the rock islands southern lagoon area (Koror State) so that it can continue to be used and enjoyed by current and future generations of the people of Koror and Palau , and remain a central part of our culture and lifestyle.’
To implement this vision, 5 specific goals, and 10 priority management issues were identified.
The specific goals were to:
- maintain and protect biodiversity,
- maintain traditional and cultural heritage,
- maintain sustainable subsistence and commercial fisheries (recreational harvesting)
- develop and sustain quality tourism and recreational activities
- gather input from the local community, biological experts and stakeholders
The priority management issues included: fisheries, harvest of invertebrates, the declining turtle populations, the endangered dugongs, forests, terrestrial issues, infrastructure, and climate.
From these goals and these issues, Palau developed a management plan where they prioritized goals, estimated costs, assigned responsibility and developed and enacted legislation to empower the plan. The plan intends to provide for the sustained use of the areas’ resources, strengthen relationships among all stakeholders, and increase environmental awareness among residents and tourists, alike. Palau recognized that, in order to ensure success, specific tools and resources were needed by the department that was charged with implementing the plan. These include the need for departmental capacity development, and access to the materials and tools for surveillance, patrol, education, citation and prosecution.
Adalbert concluded his presentation by reminding the audience that the protection of biodiversity demands a global partnership, and that is necessary to invest in education, infrastructure and manpower in order to maximize success. In addition, Adalbert emphasized the importance of establishing partnerships and collaborations are vital to overcoming financial and other shortfalls.
Presentation #2: Allan Saunders, Pacific Islands Invasives Initiative, ‘Invasive Species and Island Nations’
Island biodiversity is characterized by, and islands host a disproportionate number of, ecologically distinct and unique species (endemics). This characteristic of island biota complicates management plans, because endemics are often more vulnerable to extinction than are other species. In fact, most extinctions have taken place on islands, and the rate of extinction is likely higher on islands than on continental land masses. In particular, invasive species pose a particular threat to endemic island species. In addition to the ecological damage of invasives, the economic costs species such as the brown tree snake in Guam (US $5 million) and taro leaf blight in Samoa (US $40 million), have been well-established.
Although many ecologists suspect that islands may be more vulnerable to the ecological and economic impacts of invasive species, islands also present important management opportunities. The isolated nature of islands increases the likelihood of preventing introductions, and the small land area of many island nations suggests that eradication of invasives may be feasible. Noteworthy achievements in the management of invasive species in Pacific islands include advances in regional and national biosecurity programs, the eradication of feral pigs and goats from Sarigan Island in the Northern Marianas, and the control of rates in Cook Islands. Allan noted that weeds pose particular problems for invasive species management, especially if a persistent seed bank is present.
The Pacific Islands Invasives Initiative is a cooperative program that seeks to reduce the impacts of invasive species by managing them, primarily at the level of demonstration projects. These demonstration projects, in turn, are intended to raise awareness of and support for the eradication of invasive species, develop and demonstrate good practice, enhance predictive capabilities regarding the response of individual species to eradication attempts, develop management capacity, and stimulate further activities and actions. Across the Pacific, there are currently demonstration projects in place for invasive temperate ants, cane toads, and multiple mammal species.
Allan concluded by stating that these existing demonstration projects can be used to initiate novel projects, such that key lessons can be exchanged via learning networks. In addition, Allan suggested the possibility of globalizing cooperative islands invasives initiative.
Presentation #3: Ana Sancho, UNDP, www.hear.org/Galapagos/invasives. ‘Invasives Control in the Galapagos Archipelago’
The 127 islands of the Galapagos Archipelago host large number of endemic species. In fact, roughly 91% of the reptiles, 79% of the mammals, 58% of the insects, 49% of the birds, and 12% of the plants on the Galapagos are endemic species. Included in this unique assemblage are the famous Darwin’s finches and Galapagos tortoises. Among the chief threats to biodiversity on the Galapagos are introduced and invasive species.
The control of invasive species in the Galapagos requires empowering key stakeholders to manage these threats and to guard against potential bio-invasions in tandem with the conservation of native and endemic species and the preservation of natural evolutionary processes. Finally, it is necessary to develop and integrate a permanent system for the total control of invasive species on the Galapagos.
To achieve these goals, an inspection system has been implemented for cargo and passenger luggage, manuals and guidelines for inspections have been produced and disseminated, inspectors have been provided with monitoring equipment and specialized training courses, a baseline database has been established for introduced plants, and a prioritization system for the control of select species/sites has been developed. In addition, biological studies are being conducted to determine the most effective methodologies for the control and eradication of certain species and long-term eradication projects for various invasive plants have been initiated. Successes thus far include the near or total eradication of feral goats the islands of Santiago and Northern Isabella , and the control introduced species in the urban areas. To finance the control of introduced and invasive species in the Galapagos, a US$15 million trust fund has been established.
Break Out Groups
Following the presentations, the participants split up into break out groups to: (1) discuss the three key things individuals considered most critical from the plenary presentations, (2) reflect unique issues, concerns and challenges faced by individual group members’ island nations, and
- discuss the lived experiences in other parts of the world that could be used to minimize threats to, and enhance the sustainable use of, island biodiversity.
Group 1 Report
Malia, from the island of Oahu in Hawaii presented a summary of her group’s discussion. Key issues identified by this group include: (1) the need to include of local and indigenous peoples in the drafting and implementation of management plants, (2) recognition of both species-level and genetic-level resources, (3) a strong stance should be taken against actions such as bio-prospecting and patenting biodiversity (i.e. UH researchers are trying to patent a taro variety that is a hybrid between Hawaiian taro and Palauan taro), and (4) the need for community-generated solutions, rather than top-down solutions. In addition, this group stated the need to more specifically identify how invasive species arrive to the islands, and wondered how the food supply of local and indigenous peoples might be impacted by the eradication of pigs, goats and other animals.
Group 2 Report
Rachel Bristowe from Bird Life/Nature Seychelles presented a summary of her group’s discussion. Key issues identified by this group include the need (1) to monitor both the short-and long-term responses of specific habitats to invasive species removal, and (2) to develop ecologically sound management plans. The importance of individual experiences and regional networks for control and eradication plans was noted, as was the relatively slow temporal scale on which funding agencies operate versus the immediate nature for action on many of these issues. Finally, Rachel emphasized that prevention is ‘a million times better than control.’
Group 3 Report
Jorge Mello, UNDP translator, presented a summary of his group’s discussion. This group reported that the effects climate change, although generated primarily by non-island nations, will be disproportionately felt by small island nations. Coral bleaching due to rising sea surface temperatures, and sea level rise are but two of the issues that island nations must increasingly be aware of and prepared to face.
Group 4 report
Iracema Souza, of the Federacio das Industrias do Estado do Parana, presented a summary of her group’s discussion. This group emphasized the importance of addressing the climate change issue, and suggested that a world fund be established to deal with the potentially devastating effects that global climate change will likely have on island and other nations. One group member also noted that Brazilian law prevents the appropriate use of resources in the Amazon and instead channels capital away from local communities.
Group 5 report
Edison Henrique Pesch, UNDP translator, presented a summary of his group’s discussion. This group noted that care must be taken with the eradication process, and that local communities should not depend too much on the government for financial or other support. The importance of partner institutions was also noted.
Visit from the Governor, Lunch
The morning session ended with a visit from the Governor of Paraná, Chefia do Poder Executivo Roberto Requião de Mello e Silva. The Governor invited the participants to join him at the Taba lunch, and thanked them for their strength, persistence and input on key issues being discussed at the COP8. In addition, the Governor extended an invitation to Taba participants to join him at the Governor’s mansion for lunch on Thursday. The participants then broke for lunch, which was once again generously prepared and served by Harrison and his straight edge group.
Lunch Presentation #1
The lunch session began with the 1st speaker, François a representative from Conservation International. Although François is Canadian, he has been living in Samoa for over 25yrs.During this time, he has witnessed the extinction of almost 80% of all birds on the islands, habitat alteration and loss and the invasion of alien species. The small size of the islands actually magnifies the threat, due to their limited area and high endemicity. He maintained that islands are the hottest biodiversity hotspots, yet there remains a global gap in the analysis of these sites. The speaker then covered island conservation opportunities, and outlined the potential for community-driven actions (planning, decision-making and biodiversity monitoring). He finished his presentation by emphasizing that success ultimately relies on the communities themselves.
Lunch Presentation #2
The presentation was then followed by Robert from Tuvalu. This presentation focused on “biodiversity cool spots” which are among the most species-poor, yet highly threatened areas, in terms of terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity. Robert works on atolls, which include all low-lying limestone reef islands in the Earth’s ocean (mostly found in the tropics). Although these sites may house marginal freshwater deposits, the atolls themselves provide very little space to live. However, atolls provide important nesting and rest sites to migratory sea birds. In addition, crabs, land snails, and moray eels can be found in association with atolls.
The biota of atolls are extremely vulnerable to extinction, and their fragility warrants special attention. However, few of the usual charismatic species or ecosystems that are often catalysts for protection are represented on atolls. The presentation ended with the quote: “the object of the exercise of ‘sustainable development’ is to survive on the atolls forever. Sustainability is the idea that we can survive from the day to day to forever.”
Lunch Presentation #3
Maurice and Henri Blaffert (Conservation International) then took the stage to present their experiences from New Caledonia, Mont Panie Conservation Co-Management area. The mountainous province in which they work is extremely diverse (among the top 25 biodiversity sites in the world), and is home to a variety of endemic tree and other plant species. In addition, numbers regarding the number of species on New Caledonia certainly underestimate the true biological richness of this nation, as the discovery of new species is quite common in New Caledonia.
Invasive species are a particular challenge to conservation in New Caledonia. Introduced and feral rats, dogs, pigs and cats have been preying on indigenous animals. Fire, and associated erosion, is an additional threat to New Caledonia’s biology. Nickel mining and commercial fishing are additional threats to environment. In order to address these issues, Conservation International, in partnership with local New Caledonians, created an association known as DAYU BIIK to negotiate with the community and engage in education programs. Initiatives such as rat trapping, cat trapping, pig hunting, and dog training are meant to combat the invasive species issue. In addition, New Caledonia is trying to develop a market for ecotourism.
Lunch Presentation #4
The next speaker was Albert “Panman” Bellot, of the Global Environment Fund (GEF) Small Grants program. Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) is a small nation with approximately 60,000 inhabitants. Organized conservation efforts began on Dominica in 1949, and have been subsequently funded by the UN Foundation and the GEF SGP. Challenges to the conservation of Dominica’s biological resources include the degree to which community members are willing to, or feel comfortable with, participating in the program. An additional challenge experienced by this, and other conservation programs, is the availability and sustainability of funds. Dominica is also looking to develop and expand their eco-tourism market to provide a source of livelihoods, but more support is needed from the private sector. Specifically, information is needed on hospitality management and infrastructure construction.
Lunch Presentation #5
Alberto Sanchez from Programa de Pequeños Donaciones (Small Grants Program) in the Dominican Republic was the next presenter. Alberto spoke of the importance of collaborations between civil societies, grassroots communities and NGO and government institutions. Although such collaborations are important, local communities must take a lead role in the development of any resource management program. Alberto identified key thematic areas for community intervention, including: biodiversity, climate change, international agreements, and renewal energy sources. In the 13 years since the establishment of the Small Grants Program, more than 600 NGOs and community organizations have been involved, and there is a 90% success rate, in terms of these funds having a on conservation. To reduce threats to biodiversity, eco-tourism is a potential way to generate income while simultaneously restoring habitats and ecosystems. Renewable energy sources, such as small, hydroelectric dams and solar energy have the potential to decrease CO2 emissions, and their negative effect on global climate change.
Lunch Presentation #6
The last speaker for this series was Alfredo Simao de Silva from Guinea-Bissau. Alfredo spoke of the value of cultural and biological resources in Western Africa. Habitats such as mangroves and savannahs are biologically rich and home to many rare and endemic species. In addition, these areas are important sites for migrating birds. Currently, approximately 25,000 people call Guinea-Bissau their home, with the Bijagós people being the largest ethnic group on the island. Traditional rites play a big part in the access and conservation of natural resources on Guinea-Bissau. Potential threats to Guinea-Bissau’s resources are linked to potential expansions in the fishing and tourism markets, and potential increases in petroleum use. To avoid or minimize these potential threats, associations are trying to engage partners for the production and implementation of a sound management plan.
The afternoon session began with a short narrative by Audrey Newman of the Global Island Partnership (TNC, Asia-Pacific Region), followed by break out group discussion.
Audrey reported that the Global Island Partnership (GIP) was formed 1 year ago in Mauritius. At this time, Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers were invited to make commitments to marine conservation. At this time, the island nations of Palau, Fiji, Belize, Bahamas, Seychelles committed to protecting 20% of their marine resources, and donors provided 20million dollars towards the marine conservation initiative. President of Seychelles and vice president of Palau both called for a global island partnership so that islands could help one another work together in achieving this conservation goal. Upon returning home from the meeting, the island nation of Palau committed to protecting 30% of their marine and 25% of their forest resources, and further challenged their Micronesian neighbors to match their commitment. In March of 200, the last of the four Micronesian entities signed onto the Palauan commitment. At the COP8, more commitments are expected to be announced, and key to having these commitments hit the ground is the active and invested participation of Taba members.
During the break out sessions, group members were asked to identify: (1) key priorities for the conservation of island biodiversity, (2) challenges to achieving those priorities, and (3) ways in which partner institutions can assist island communities in achieving their conservation objectives. In addition, Taba participants were invited to participate in a working group that would draft a summary of the messages that emerge from discussion.
Key Priorities Identified by Groups:
- protection of traditional knowledge, innovations and sustainable practices are protected
- alien invasive species
- transfer of genetic resources
- community autonomy in decision making process
- engagement of the entire community in the decision-making process
- establishment of networks in local and national, international levels
- develop an understanding of the prioritized needs both from both a bottom-up and a top-down perspective
- establish well-defined well internal rules of behavior and respect, such that people who come from discrepant areas can work well together
- utilize learning exchanges to share lessons learned and best
- controlling the extraction of resources by multinational companies
- economically robust conservation intervention and sustainable development
- message delivery (i.e. how do you get these very complex messages and decisions that are emerging from COP8 down to the communities, and how do you get the message from the communities back up to the policymakers?)
- capacity building – how to find and maintain the champions
- protection of 10% of the ecological regions
- management of protected area system (more than paper parks)
- financial resources
- need for technology transfer
- more biologically friendly agriculture (more support for the technology)
- need for international pressure against negative actors in the Island Biodiversity Initiative
- incorporation of the Island Biodiversity Initiative objectives into the formal education system Challenges to Achieving these Priorities
- Tenure rights of farmers and rural communities
- lack of information/data regarding the status of biological resources and species extinction in most regions
- moving human nature and human mindset of many local communities from one of survival to one of sustainable development
- mainstream conservation
- Taking the messages that emerge from COP8 back to the community, such that decisions and commitments are made
- establishment of a global partnership for biodiversity conservation, climate change, etc.
- contaminants and pesticide use in modern agricultural production
- lack of commitment from urban-based politicians
Ways in Which Partner Institutions can Help Achieve these Priorities:
- Local, regional and national governments should establish partnerships with indigenous peoples and local communities/agencies, where such partnerships are based on communication, trust, respect
- Networks should be established to facilitate the sharing of experiences, lessons, learned, best practices. In addition, such networks can provide a platform for a united and collective voice.
- Sustainable and/or alternative financial support from governments, NGOs and private sector donors
- Establish clear and formal contracts that recognize traditional knowledge
- provide services and capacity building , and a pool of technical experts
- strengthen the linkages between academia and NGOs, communities, etc.
The afternoon session ended with Pippa stating that they will endeavor to highlight these issues to the COP8 as key themes coming out of the Taba. Volunteers were solicited for the drafting group, to work on the statement to be presented at the COP8. Willy Kostka, Executive Director, Conservation Society of Pohnpei and Randy Thaman, Professor of Pacific Islands Biogeography, University of the South Pacific, both agreed to serve on the drafting group.
The day ended with a traditional Kava Chat ceremony, conducted by the Fijiian contingent, followed by an evening and cocktails and dancing within the Taba.