Work on mangroves shared at regional science congress

18 July 2013 | Article

The 12th Pacific Science Inter Congress held from 8-12 July at the University of the South Pacific (USP) provided another opportunity for IUCN Oceania to elaborate on its work in improving management and conservation of mangrove ecosystems in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Through the Mangroves Ecosystems for Climate Change Adaptation and Livelihoods (MESCAL) project, IUCN has been undertaking specific in-country activities that focus on the conservation and restoration of mangroves in five countries (Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu). One main activity for all these countries is to enhance existing data regarding local mangroves including updating of national species records, mapping of mangrove areas and review of mangrove plans and policies.

The Congress was well attended with about 500 people from various disciplines. Academics, scientists and students used the opportunity to debate and discuss issues around the theme 'Science for Human Security and Sustainable Development of the Pacific Islands and Rim'.

Ms Neema Nand, Country Coordinator of MESCAL Fiji, revealed that in the Fijian context, mangrove management works best using the top-down approach. This is largely due to state jurisdiction over mangrove resources and the multi-sectoral governance. She also discussed the revision of Fiji’s Mangrove Management Plan, from 1985, undertaken in 2012.

Mr Sione Lepa, Country Coordinator of MESCAL Tonga, spoke on the work undertaken to complete, for the first time, the mangrove maps for two islands in Tonga: Tongatapu and Vava’u. Through this national mapping process, two new mangrove species were discovered: Pemphis acidula and Rhizophora X selala. Also the total mangrove coverage for Tongatapu and Vava’u was found to be 1,831 ha. This figure is new because according to the Mangrove Atlas (2010) compiled by Mark Spalding, Mami Kainuma and Lorna Collins the total mangrove area for all of Tonga is 336ha.

In Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, as a result of the mangrove species surveys Vanuatu’s mangrove list was increased by eight species while Solomon Islands recognised one additional species of mangrove.

Updated information such as stated above obtained through the MESCAL project is useful to governments and conservation experts for various purposes including policy and education and also to help improve management from local to national scales.  Improving our knowledge on our mangrove resources can also prevent further misuse and destruction of this critical ecosystem.

The Pacific Science Inter Congress enabled the exchange of information on high level scientific work being conducted around the region. IUCN Oceania congratulates USP, an IUCN Member, for facilitating the important regional event.

For more information please contact Dr. Milika Sobey at milika.sobey@iucn.org