Friday, July 13, 2012

Reimaanlok, a conservation plan for the future of the Marshall Islands

12 July 2012, Bucharest, Romania - Reimaanlok, the Marshall Islands Conservation Plan is proposed to under review this year.  Established in 2007, a year after the Marshall Islands signed on to the Micronesia Challenge, the plan is a guide to help the island nation meet their part of the commitment.

 The Micronesia Challenge aims to effectively conserve 30% of nearshore marine and 20% of terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.  Reimaanlok maps the course of actions to be taken by Marshall Islands, to establish and manage community-based conservation areas.

The Marshall Islands Conservation Plan was featured at the Oceania side event at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

“We use the Reimaanlok to guide us in our work.  A key part of the vision of this plan is to ensure we have a community based approach to nature conservation,” presented Ms. Olai Uludong, Chief Coastal and Land Management Division of the RMI Environmental Management Authority

“We always try to work with the community as much as possible because if the actions are community driven, then there is community ownership.”

Ms. Olai Uludong presenting the Reimaanlok
It is envisages that when the plan goes into review that it is hoped that , the findings will help them understand just how successful the actions have been under the guidance of the Reimaanlok and how close they are to achieving the Micronesia Challenge.

To fully understand the challenges faced by the Marshall Islands in implementing their conservation plans, an understanding of the islands geographical features helps. 

The Marshall Islands consists of 29 atolls with 5 solitary islands.  It comprises 1,2225 individual islands and islands and has an Exclusive Economic Zone of over 2 million Km2, less that 0.01% of this, is land.  

Threats to their nature conservation range from overfishing to urban development and pollution to the nuclear history, to the loss of traditional conservation purposes. 

The Ramsar Wetland site of International Importance is based on one of the large coral atolls, the Jaluit Atoll Conservation Area it comprises 91 islets with a land area of 700 hectares enclosing a large lagoon.   

There are plans to propose a second Ramsar Wetland of international importance, the Namdrik Atoll.  Here at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Wetlands, the Marshall Islands, the island nation sought support to help expand their wetlands conservation areas.

“We’re here because we can’t conserve on our own anymore, we do have our traditional knowledge and skills for conservation but at this particular point we need technical assistance, we need financial resources, capacity building and knowledge, I think this is where we can try and achieve those and tap into the opportunities presented at these conferences.  We want to nominate more Ramsar sites.”

At this meeting the Marshall Islands will relinquish their position on the Standing committee and welcome Fiji in to this role to represent Oceania.

The 11th Conference of the Parties on the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is held in Romania from 6 -13 July.  The Marshall Islands are contracting parties to the convention along with Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Samoa. 

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