Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Samoa and Palau: Sustainable land management

20 October 2011, Changwon Korea - Samoa and Palau are two of the 48 countries worldwide that are part of the Sustainable Land Management (SLM) project which aims to bring about effective land management in Least Developed Countries and Small Islands Developing States.

Funded by the Global Environment Facility and coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), this project has also helped these party countries implement the UN Convention to Combat Desertification through building local capacity.

According to a UNDP presentation, the project allows for approximately USD 500,000.00 per country to help bring about sustainable land management practices, and will come to an end next year in the Pacific region.

For the island nation of Palau, their project is focused on effective land use planning.  This involves taking into consideration the various social, economic and environmental factors that may contribute to land degradation when planning to use land for a range of purposes; it also involves linking comprehensive planning with best management practices. 
“This project has emphasised the value of land use planning and establishing more efficiency along institutional lines; SLM for Palau has not been focused on farming techniques, but rather more on how to facilitate stronger coordination among agencies involved in land management,” said Madelsar Ngraingas the SLM Project Coordinator through the Office of the PALARIS under the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce. 

“I think the project has been successful particularly with coordinating agency activities and building strong partnerships and collaborative efforts, particularly in terms of land use planning and other related activities outlined in the project.”

The Palau SLM project has three key areas which include; compilation of best management practices; development of a national land use policy that contains a financial strategy to sustain institutional operations and; supporting the mobilization of resources to help states develop master plans that ensure comprehensive planning and sustainable development.

Palau plans to complete their national activities for this project in December of this year with a project final evaluation to take place sometime early next year.
In Samoa the National Action Programme for sustainable land management was developed in 2006 outlines how the island nation is implementing the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.  The Sustainable Land Management Project is one of the activities under the national action programme.

“It is through this project that we have been able to attract significant attention to the threat of land degradation upon the survival of land based natural resources upon which sustainable livelihoods depend,” said Fa’ainoino Laulala, the Principal Land Policy and Development Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Samoa.

“Degraded land areas are visible in Samoa, due to infrastructural development and the frequent occurrence of natural disasters such as the 2009 tsunami.  There is a greater need to protect our land at all costs through the promotion of sustainable land manage practices such as sustainable agriculture and wastershed management, to name a few, as well as through rehabilitation and conservation measures.”

A successful land degradation project in Samoa was that which restored 10 acres of largely degraded land that was an old government quarry site.  As part of the National Action Programme the site is now restored through the rehabilitation efforts to revive the health and integrity of terrestrial ecosystems of the site, it is now a national park reserved mainly for recreational purposes.

“Apart from the SLM project which we hope to successfully complete by December, the Vaitele Rehabilitation project through funding from a UNCCD – Venezuela grant, is one of our success stories.  Our main challenge now is to ensure we are able to sustain the ability to address desertification, land degradation and drought.  The 5th round of funding from the Global Environment Facility may have potential for us to address this challenge”

While at the UNCCD COP 10, Samoa has been in discussions with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), UNDP and the Global Mechanism about a project to help strengthen sustainable financing activities in Samoa.

The 14 Pacific island countries that are a party to this project are: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

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