Saturday, July 7, 2012

Palau seeks financial support at Ramsar COP11 on Wetlands

Ngardok Nature Reserve, Palau
7 July 2012, Bucharest, Romania – Sustainable financing is a key issue for Palau, attending the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Palau became the first island in Micronesia to join the Convention with the Ngardok Nature Reserve as the first designated Ramsar wetland site of importance.  Lake Ngardok is the largest natural lake in Micronesia.  The traditional leaders of Melekeok established the Ngardok Nature Reserve to protect the watershed from degradation, the special qualities of the lake and integrity of the forests above the lake are critical to preserving the water quality.

The Ngardok watershed culminates approximately 1,000 acres of land above Lake Ngardok.  Rain that falls in the area above Lake Ngardok, either evaporates from the forests and percolates into the groundwater or makes its way to the lake which then drains into the Ngerdorch River, a water source for the villages of Melekeok and Ngchesar.

By attending the Ramsar COP 11, it is hoped that the Ngardok Nature Reserve will come closer to seeking sustainable financing solutions for management.

Pua Michael, the delegate from Palau attending Ramsar COP11

“We are struggling to seek support to take care of Lake Ngardok, right now people pay USD5.00 to visit the site but it’s not enough,” said Pua Micheal, the National Ramsar Focal Point of Palau.

“While Palau has started the Green Fee, it is fairly new and we’ll apply for this fund once all the right mechanisms are in place that will allow us to access the funding.”

The Lake Ngardok Nature Reserve is home to at least 11 indigenous bird species including the national bird, the Palau Fruit Dover or bib (Ptilinopus pelewensis).  The lake and marshes surrounding the lake are home to the endangered crocodile, the (ius).  This is an important breeding area for the saltwater crocodiles, (Crocodylus porosus).  The Ngerdorch River is a travel route for the ius from the lake to the sea.

Oceania Preparatory Meeting for Ramsar COP11, March, 2012
Palau was the venue for the preparatory meeting of the Oceania region to the Ramsar COP 11, an event which helped provide Palau with lessons learnt as they aim to finalise management plans and procedures in order to apply for funding under the Palau green fee.

“The preparatory meeting really helped opened our eyes as to different things that we can try and the importance of this convention for us as we strive to strengthen the Lake Ngardok Nature Reserve.”

The Ramsar COP is held in Romania from 6 – 13 July, there are  seven members of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) that are parties to Ramsar: Australia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.  A number of other SPREP members are in the process of joining including Kiribati, Tonga and Vanuatu.

For more information on the Ramsar COP 11 please visit:

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