Ramsar, SPREP Participate in IUCN Mangrove Conservation Meetings

Members of the PMI Steering Committee23 June 2011: The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) participated in a meeting of the national coordinators of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Mangroves Ecosystem for Climate Change and Livelihoods (MESCAL) project, which followed up on progress of the project and sought to ensure that MESCAL activities fit with the new Regional Wetlands Action Plan for Pacific Islands.

The meeting took place from 6-8 June 2011, at the offices of IUCN Oceania in Fiji. The MESCAL project focuses on activities in five Pacific Island Countries (Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and Samoa) to address key challenges to mangrove management and conservation.

Meeting participants underlined the need to have baseline national data collected (mangrove extent, distribution, condition, etc.) through the project, and considered the regional mangrove monitoring manual and regional mangrove database as the regional depository for this national data, both of which have been developed by SPREP.

On 7 June, an informal meeting was held with Tavenisa Luisa of the Fiji National Ramsar Administrative Authority (Fiji Environment Department) to discuss Ramsar implementation matters in the country. Another informal meeting was held with Rolenas Baereleo from the Environment Department of Vanuatu, one of the non-contracting Parties in the Pacific, to provide further information about the Ramsar Convention and the process of accession.

On 9 June, the inaugural meeting of the Steering Committee for the Pacific Mangrove Initiative (PMI), 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, took place. This meeting brought together representatives from the five MESCAL countries, the University of the South Pacific, WWF, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and WorldFish. Participants discussed: the need to widen the PMI partnership to include all relevant organizations and other Pacific Islands that have mangroves; the new Regional Wetlands Action Plan; the green economy; the need for an effective regional mangrove database; funding opportunities for the initiative; and establishing a similar initiative dealing with seagrasses. [Ramsar Press Release]