Marine biodiversity conservation in the South Pacific

Project description

Title: Marine and coastal biodiversity management in the Pacific island states and atolls
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)
Countries: Pacific island region: Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu
Lead executing agency: Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)
Overall term: 2013 to 2018

Philippines. Fiji (Photo: Jan Steffen)  © GIZ

Context
Covering 180 million square kilometres, the Pacific makes up around half of the earth’s water surface and a third of the total surface area of the world. The 22 Pacific island states and territories include more than 200 mountainous volcanic islands and approximately 2,500 flat islands and atolls. The exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of the five South Pacific countries involved in this project (Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu) each extend for 200 nautical miles out from the islands’ coastlines and cover an area of 7.5 million square kilometres – 21 times the size of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The natural resources in marine and coastal areas play a vital role in the economies of the Pacific island states and provide the basis for the people’s livelihoods. However, national planning processes have so far barely reflected the need to conserve these resources and use them sustainably, due not least to a lack of awareness of their economic value. The existing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have often been set out inappropriately and are therefore unable to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services over the medium and long term. Improved management of the marine and coastal biodiversity of mountainous volcanic islands (Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) and flat islands and atolls (Kiribati and Tonga) is to help the partner countries reach their targets under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 within the scope of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

Objective
The management of the marine and coastal biodiversity of mountainous volcanic islands (Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu) and flat islands and atolls (Kiribati, Tonga) has improved.

Approach
The project focuses on developing and strengthening institutional and individual capacities for biodiversity conservation in marine and coastal areas in the five target countries.

The project activities include conducting economic evaluations of marine and coastal ecosystems, and incorporating the results into national development plans. A spatial planning approach that covers territorial waters and the exclusive economic zones is to be developed and made available. This will enable the partner countries to gear their national MPA networks to ecological representativity and expand them. The project aims to showcase best practices for the management of MPAs (including payments for environmental services), and to use exemplary areas to demonstrate the ensuing benefits.

Stabilising the reproductive cycles of flora and fauna and ecosystem services in the MPAs will allow species populations to recover and spread beyond the MPA boundaries. This is particularly important for the conservation of a variety of endangered endemic species in the western South Pacific region, but it also benefits deep-sea fishing – an important activity for the Pacific island states – around the protected areas.

The project is scaling up tried and tested concepts and approaches across the Pacific and internationally. To this end, GIZ is cooperating with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Philippines. Insel Fiji (Photo: Jan Steffen)  © GIZ

Contact

Karl P. Kirsch-Jung
karl-peter.kirsch-jung@giz.de