Noticias | 31 Oct, 2022

Report launch: the first comprehensive regional assessment of protected and conserved areas in the Pacific

A new report launched by the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (BIOPAMA) marks the first comprehensive regional assessment of protected and conserved areas in the Pacific region.

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Photo: IUCN, SPREP and WCS Fiji with the newly launched SOPACA report. PC Ananta Singh

The ‘Conserving our sea of islands: State of protected and conserved areas in Oceania’ report examines the status of protected and conserved areas in Oceania (with the exception of Australia and New Zealand). It reviews and outlines the progress made towards achieving national and international targets for protected and conserved areas, including for coverage, representativeness, connectivity and effectiveness. The report also displays the achievements and learnings from across the region to promoted effective management practices. In addition, it further reviews and highlights relevant regional protected and conserved area issues and provides guidance for strengthening their management effectiveness, governance and equity.

Speaking at the launch, the Deputy Head of European Union Delegation for the Pacific, Dr. Erja Askola, emphasised the significance of the report for the Pacific region.

This valuable report will help achieve effective outcomes for nature conservation and will contribute to a better understanding of the instrumental role that the systems of protected and conserved areas play in the Pacific region,” Ms Askola said.

Protected and conserved areas are the cornerstone. They are crucial not only for conservation but also for building climate resilience, reducing disaster risks, and improving people’s livelihoods, including sustainable food production.

IUCN, in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), launched the report at the Pacific Preparatory Meeting in advance of the CBD COP15 in Nadi, Fiji.

As a BIOPAMA implementing partner, SPREP is pleased to have contributed to this timely assessment report for the region,” said Mr. Stuart Chape, Director Island and Oceans Ecosystems at SPREP.

The ‘Conserving our sea of islands’ report is a multi-partner collaboration that has produced the first comprehensive regional assessment of protected and conserved areas in the Pacific islands and I want to congratulate IUCN and the BIOPAMA team for its production”, Mr. Chape continued.

The Oceania region has an astounding array of ecosystems and biocultural diversity. The report lists some of the threats such as habitat loss and degradation; overexploitation; invasive species; pollution; loss of traditional knowledge, practice and belief systems and human-forced climate change.

Along with other conservation strategies, protected and conserved areas play a vital role in addressing these threats and safeguarding the region’s biodiversity.

The report found that significant progress has occurred over the past two decades, particularly in the marine realm – with 19.9% of the exclusive economic zone now within protected areas. Importantly, nearly 50% of protected areas in the independent states of the region are community-based or indigenous-run. This constitutes nearly a quarter of all of such sites reported on the planet.

IUCN acknowledged the regional and global experts who came together to prepare the first comprehensive review of the protected and conserved areas in the Oceania region.

This significant body of work would not have been possible without the authors, editors and contributors and I acknowledge the 18 authors, 4 editors and the numerous people who contributed to the 8 chapters and annexes of the report”, shared Mr. Mason Smith, Regional Director for IUCN Oceania.

The report embodies the spirit of the late Pacific scholar Epeli Hau’ofa, who coined the phrase “Our Sea of Islands” to help re-imagine the region as self-determined “Big Ocean States” connected to place and each other - ideas that underpin conservation.

Mr. Smith proceeded and thanked the donors and partners “At this juncture, I would like to acknowledge our donors and partners – the European Union (EU) and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States whose generous support has made this report possible through the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (BIOPAMA). Their long-standing commitment to the protected and conserved areas in the region is acknowledged and appreciated.  I would also like to acknowledge our partners, the Joint Research Centre and the European Commission, and SPREP.

The ‘Conserving our sea of islands: State of protected and conserved areas in Oceania’ report is now available online via https://doi.org/jh9p