The North and South Pacific region is approximately 10,000 km east to west and 5,000 km north to south and comprises numerous islands of varying sizes (Papua New Guinea being the largest while Nauru, Tokelau and Tuvalu are each less than 30 square km in area). The marine environment is broadly tropical, extending north and south of the Equator. The broad pattern of marine biodiversity is a gradient of decreasing numbers of species from west to east and from warm equatorial waters away from the equator to more temperate waters. The western Pacific, of which this region is a part, has the highest marine biodiveristy in the world.
Key coastal marine ecosystems that characterise the region include mangroves, coastal lagoons coral reefs, seamounts, ridges, trenches and the pelagic ecosystem, which sustaines the world's largest remaining stocks of tuna. The area is significant for humpback whale migratory routes between breeding and feeding grounds in the north and the south Pacific. Other important marine species that are rare or globally threatened include turtles (6 species), saltwater crocodiles, dugong and sharks.
The indigenous people of the region are either Micronesian, Melanesian or Polynesian and are related to pan-Pacific migrations over the past two thousand years. More recent influences of French, British, Japanese and U.S. cultures have resulted in a wide diversity of people, cultures and languages. Traditional practices and customs are strongly focused on the coastal marine area, as many communities rely heavily on coastal and nearshore marine resources for subsistance needs.
Major threats to the Pacific region's biodiversity include a decline in coral reefs through bleaching, disease, runoff and nutrient enrichment, overfishing and sea level rise.
- Conservation Action Planning (CAP)
Since 2004, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has been using the Conservation Action Planning (CAP) process to help guide our site conservation actions in Micronesia. The CAP process has the following objectives:
- Identify actions that produce long-term measurable conservation results at the local conservation area level;
- Establish partnerships to support and implement conservation interventions;
- Quantitatively and qualitatively measure conservation impact in the area over time.
The CAP integrates both empirical data and qualitative information in five core components:
- Systems – Identifying the biological systems, communities, and species in the Area of Biodiversity Significance that are the “targets” or primary focus for management and conservation efforts. These targets also serve as surrogates for the complex biophysical processes necessary to maintain them.
- Critical Threats – Identifying, assessing and prioritizing the threats that are degrading the targets and their causal factors.
- Stakeholders – Identifying individuals, groups, organizations and institutions that have an interest in the ABS and who can impact critical threats and conservation efforts.
- Strategies – Developing management and conservation interventions to improve biodiversity health, abate critical threats and build local capacity for long-term conservation.
- Measures of Success – Developing a monitoring and evaluation protocol to assess conservation impact over time.
To share this process rapidly with new projects and partners in the region, TNC uses a CAP workshop series, with 4-6 field-based teams coming together to comprehensively analyze biological, social, economic and other factors at their conservation sites. Teams then develop and assess strategic conservation actions to preserve or improve biodiversity, abate critical threats, and build local capacity for conservation. In 2007 and early 2008, TNC piloted a new CAP process. TNC invited new teams from the CNMI, Chuuk, Guam, and the RMI to participate in a series of on-site workshops facilitated by Trina Leberer, TNC Marine Conservation Coordinator. Teams were comprised of representatives from a variety of sectors, including local and federal governments, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and community groups. On-site workshops resulted in the following outputs:
Draft lists of conservation targets, with at least one key ecological attribute to their viability assessed per target
- Draft list of ranked threats (both stresses and sources)
- A Vision for each site
- Stakeholder / situation analysis for each site
- Revised map of the area
- Draft objectives and some strategic actions, and indicators to monitor
- Capacity assessment
- Process mapped from start to “finish” on how to work with communities in each site to do CAP / management planning
- SWOT analysis
These workshops also used the Pacific Island Marine Protected Area Community (PIMPAC) management planning guidebook and drew from the Locally Managed Marine Area Network (LMMA) methods for engaging communities in the planning process to ensure a key outcome of the process is the development of management plans for the CAP sites. In addition, in order to train the next generation of Micronesian CAP coaches, capable and interested individuals from previous teams have been participating in the process as coaches-in-training. The coaches-in-training include: Umiich Sengebau, TNC; Steven Victor, PICRC; Eugene Joseph, CSP; Betty Sigrah, KIRMA; Alissa Takesy, FSM PAN Coordinator; Mary Rose Nakayama, MCT; and Meghan Gombos, NOAA and PIMPAC co-coordinator. In April, 2008, teams from all four sites participated in one 5-day workshop to share their CAPs and draft management plans and receive feedback from each other. In the latter part of 2008, the coaches will then return to each site to facilitate the teams through modifications identified by peer-review at the group workshop, to discuss next steps for implementation of key strategies, and to help finalize management plans.
- Assistance in Identifying Ecoregional Priorities
In order to assist local partners in the FSM to fine-tune strategic conservation priorities identified in the FSM Blueprint and fill gaps in information on marine areas of biological significance (ABS), rapid ecological assessments (REAs) have now been completed in all 4 states (Pohnpei, Kosrae, Yap, and Chuuk). Following the completion of the Chuuk REA, TNC, partnering with the FSM Department of Economic Affairs, MCT, and state government agencies and conservation NGOs, is also planning to conduct a gap analysis / design criteria workshop to assess current ABS (both terrestrial and marine) for the nation and identify any gaps in potential design options for a nation-wide network of protected areas (20-23 October, 2008).
- Assistance in Sustainable Funding and Policy for Conservation
TNC is working with MCT to assist local partners in the 5 MC jurisdictions to develop sustainable financing plans for achieving the goals of the Micronesia Challenge within their jurisdictions. This entails identifying the long-term financial needs to effectively manage and conserve marine and terrestrial resources throughout Micronesia and assisting each jurisdiction to devise strategies for meeting these financial needs in a sustainable way.
- 2nd Regional Meeting of the Micronesia Challenge
More than 60 participants from the FSM, CNMI, RMI, ROP, and Guam converged on Pohnpei from 2-6 June, 2008 for the 2nd Regional Meeting of the Micronesia Challenge. The meeting was comprised of three components:
- A technical workshop “Moving Toward Measuring Our Effectiveness: The 1st Meeting of the MC Measures Working Group” to continue the discussion on regional indicators;
- A communications workshop “Moving Toward Communicating our Messages: the 1st Meeting of the MC Communications Working Group” to develop a regional communications strategy; and
- The 4th meeting of the MC Steering Committee.
The Measures Working Group met with the goal of defining a proposed process and timeline for the periodic measurement and analysis of progress made toward achieving the goals of the MC. In addition, the working group met the following five associated objectives:
- Establishment of a technical working group focused on developing a process for and coordinating the periodic completion of measurement and analysis of progress made toward achieving the goals of the MC;
- Identification of the regional overlaps and gaps associated with biological and social indicators related to natural resource management being collected across terrestrial and marine ecosystems by participating agencies and organizations operating within each of the participating jurisdictions;
- Identification of a shared set of results chains that are related to the MC goals;
- Consensus around a proposed set of relevant and useful categories of MC measures and a possible set of corresponding indicators to be collected across jurisdictions, as appropriate; and
- Recommendations to the MC communications working group on how the outputs of the MC measures working group could be used for messaging purposes.
The Communications Working Group met concurrently and succeeded in meeting the following five objectives:
- Review and finalization of a modular regional MC Communications strategy;
- Development of a template for island-wide communications plans that clearly link to the regional MC Communications strategy;
- Building a cohesive regional communications team by sharing information and lessons learned among communications and outreach working group members and carrying out team building exercises;
- Development of a regional inventory of summaries, photos, presentations, and other outreach materials; and
- Recommendations to the MC measures working group to foster the development of effectiveness measures that support messaging to key audiences.
Steering Committee Meeting
The Steering Committee came together for their fourth meeting in Pohnpei on 5 June 2008. The Committee elected Marion Henry (Focal Point, FSM) as the new Chairperson and Fran Castro (Focal Point, CNMI) as new Vice Chairperson. The Committee then discussed the following:
- Hiring process for the position of Regional Coordinator and the steps needed to finalize the office set-up in Palau,
- Update on the Micronesia Conservation Trust,
- Successes, lessons learned, and remaining obstacles and challenges that may be preventing the MC from moving forward more effectively,
- Piloting a business planning process in Palau as a follow-up to jurisdictional sustainable finance plan development,
- Upcoming fundraising opportunities at high profile events, and
- Hiring of a Communications consultant, at least on a temporary basis
The Committee also developed a proposed Regional Organizational Diagram and outlined several jurisdictional diagrams to better describe how the various conservation and management efforts connect in each place and across the region, in conjunction with the MC.
- The Nature Conservancy & Micronesia
More than 1,300 species of reef fish, 85 species of birds, 1,400 species of plants and 66 threatened species are found in Micronesia. Learn more about The Nature Conservancy's work and initiatives there.
- Sylvia Earle Alliance - Hope Spots
Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean, Earth's blue heart. Some of these Hope Spots are already protected, while others are important enough that it is imperative that they be protected. About 12% of the land around the world is now under some form of protection (as national parks, world heritage sites, monuments, etc.), while less than one percent of the ocean is protected in any way.
Micronesia Conservation Trust