Working towards a Pacific Mangroves Declaration

01 July 2014 | News story

The Pacific Mangroves Initiative is developing the region’s first mangroves declaration, which will formalize how countries will collaborate on a regional level to strengthen mangrove protection.

The Pacific Islands contain over 70% of the world’s mangrove species, despite containing only 3.8% of the global mangrove area. Each island group has a unique mangrove community structure, as genetic isolation has allowed endemic mangrove species to evolve. Mangrove ecosystems continue to provide significant social, economic and cultural benefits for Pacific Island communities – but development pressures are allowing for unsustainable clearing and degradation. This is a similar story to what is happening globally, with mangroves one of the most critically threatened ecosystems in the world – in some countries 50% to 80% of mangroves have been cleared in the last 20 years.

Recognizing the importance of mangroves and the threats they face, the six countries involved in the Pacific Mangroves Initiative (Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tonga) are discussing how best to collaborate their efforts to conserve mangroves across the region. These measures may include standardizing national conservation policies, undertaking large-scale restoration activities and regulating sustainable use of mangroves.

The collaboration efforts will be formalized in a ‘Pacific Mangroves Declaration’, which is expected to be signed by the Environment Ministers of the six countries and announced at the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States in Apia, Samoa, in September 2014. This will be a formal acknowledgement from the Environment Ministers that mangroves are key coastal ecosystems that need to be conserved – an important first step.

The Pacific Mangroves Declaration would be the first agreement of its kind in the region. The declaration was inspired by the Mangrove Charter for the West African region, agreed between the nations of Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone. It is hoped that the Pacific Mangroves Declaration will lead to the development of national action plans for the conservation and sustainable management of mangrove forests, as demonstrated in the West African Charter.

The Pacific Mangroves Initiative began in 2009 with the mission to assist Pacific Island countries and territories to implement sound practices and capacity building in mangrove management. It is a partnership-based initiative between IUCN, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, the UN Development Programme, and the following countries: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

For more information please contact Dr. Milika Sobey, Water and Wetlands Programme Coordinator, milika.sobey@iucn.org