We've been in Vanuatu for almost two months and a lot has been happening! Some highlights: a partnership with the Nguna-Pele Marine and Land Protected Area Network; a dynamic week at the Annual General Meeting of the Vanua-tai Environmental Monitors, which included assisting with the creation of a women's network; we've created a presentation which connects people's gardening in the bush with the herbivore fish gardening the reefs (this has been well received as helping clarify the need for fish to clean the reef and impacts of overfishing); we've worked with Vanua-tai partners from south and west Malekula, which included enlisting a new woman monitor from Melip, and helped launch a brand new network for the Southwest Bay region, called the Senewnu Environmental Network; IR Project Coordinator Ronneth John prepared a management plan for the Napi Conservation Area where last year IR helped launch the Napi-Nata-Lili Environmental network; we've produced several video productions including one about an aquaculture project in Santo, and one on organic gardening for climate change adaptation. We've completed several rapid reef surveys, and witnessed significant bleaching throughout the islands. This week (3rd week of June), we'll be heading up to the Banks Islands where we've been planning a series of events with our Vanua-tai partners, including some environmental music concerts with traditional bamboo bands! Very busy!
We only have occasional access to internet here, but we'll do our best to update either here on our website or on Facebook in the weeks to come.
cheers from the team!
We've just uploaded a new video to Youtube and posted it on our videos page. The video was filmed on NW Malekula island and documents three villages coming together to launch the Napi Nata Lili Environment Network. Together, these communities have set aside vast areas of marine and coastal habitats as protected areas. Island Reach was honored to be part of this celebration and to document this ceremony. The video also features a short section of IR Project Coordinator, Willie Kenneth, introducing Reef Check survey methodologies to community members.
Today we finished packing up the gear donated to Island Reach by Aqualung USA: 46 wetsuits for the Vanua-tai monitors and over 120 youth snorkel kits we'll use for reef awareness activities. The 8 large boxes will travel by seafreight and we'll receive them in Port Vila in May.
Many, many thanks to Aqualung for this generous donation and for continuing to support our work in Vanuatu!
After COP21, The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) referred to small island states like Vanuatu as situated at the frontlines of climate change, but also as places that are "innovative incubators ...showcasing solutions". The Vanua-tai Monitor Network is an excellent example of such innovation. An article by Janis about the Vanua-tai and the importance of biocultural diversity has been published in the March 2016 issue of the marine conservation and travel magazine, Seven Seas. You can read the article here.
IR Project Coordinator Ronneth John Accepted to Pacific Islands Community Conservation Training & Certification
Island Reach Project Coordinator Ronneth John has been accepted to attend a regional conservation training course on Community-based Conservation and Adaptive Management. Ronneth's acceptance is based on his long-time commitment to conservation and his proposal to work with IR to reach remote communities throughout Vanuatu were he can provide leadership and the transfer of skills and knowledge to these communities.
The aim of this 3 phase program is to build and improve the capacity of conservation practitioners, like Ronneth, to achieve widespread natural resource management and sustainable community livelihoods among Pacific Small Island Developing States. The course is a result of a collaboration of multiple agencies and organizations, including the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the University of the South Pacific, and with principal funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.
The program will take Ronneth to Solomon Islands for a 4 week training in April, after which he'll join us aboard Llyr to implement his project work in central and northern Vanuatu for 4 months, and then he'll return to Honiara for a 3 week period of review, reflection, and reporting, as well as additional training.
Live & Learn Vanuatu has released their report on Water Security in the Shepherd Group which Island Reach was instrumental in helping prepare. In 2014Island Reach delivered and assisted with the installation of the water catchment system and then we returned, post-cyclone, in 2015, to learn about the effects of the cyclone and the building El Nino. Our two videos are featured in this report.
Learn more at this link: Water Security, Shepherd Group Islands, Live & Learn Vanuatu
In December, Island Reach Project Coordinators Willie and Ronneth flew north to Malekula Island to continue working with communities we'd visited aboard RV Llyr earlier in the year. They had a busy couple of weeks working with members of the recently established Napi Nata Lili Environment Network in the NW and the Malamap Netan Netas network in the SE, setting up management committees and developing management plans for their conservation activities. December is also turtle nesting time in Vanuatu, and the team worked with communities in western Malekula, known as the "Turtle Coast," surveying nesting sites, tagging females, relocating nests jeopardized by coastal erosion, and building fences to protect nests from dogs. In all, they counted 83 nests!
In the SE, they surveyed reefs, counting key fish species and percentage of live coral, comparing these in the conserved areas with those in the open areas. They held several community meetings to present their findings and holding small group discussions to consider advantages and disadvantages, and opportunities and threats related to these conserved marine areas.
It was an exciting couples of weeks for the Island Reach team and we're all looking forward to returning later this year.
Meanwhile, Willie and Ronneth are preparing for their next IR expedition to the far north, remote Bank Islands in late January.
Aqualung USA has generously expanded their support of Island Reach this season and they are sending us 43 adult wet suits along with gloves and boots for the Vanua-tai as well as over 100+ youth snorkel packs for reef education activities in remote villages! Thanks Aqualung, the historic Cousteau partner and "First to Dive"!
Our partner, Mission Blue, an initiative of the Sylvia Earle Alliance, has shared a feature on their website about Island Reach. Check it out by clicking here.