Established in conjunction with the Pacific Islands Round Table for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas, a regional Protected Areas working group is being reinvigorated with the support of the BIOPAMA programme and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and is a driver to deliver the Regional Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in the Pacific.
Two recent meetings of the Pacific Protected Area Working Group (PAWG) in Suva, Fiji in March and April 2015 confirmed that the first aim of the PAWG will encourage and support collaboration and coordination on protected areas issues across the Pacific Island region. It will also provide a much sought after regional hub for networking and exchange of knowledge and expertise on protected areas issues, not only to members of the Pacific Protected Area Working Group but reaching out to a wider audience of conservation practitioners.
The broad range of strategic and specific issues associated with protected areas in the region is well acknowledged. Stuart Chape, Director of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management at SPREP, stressed that this group was a fundamental driver for implementation of key actions from the Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas. With such a wide range of interested members and organisations, PAWG sub groups will take responsibility for action on specific issues.
Some immediate focus areas include:
• Sharing information on protected area activities and projects that are being undertaken across the region via an online forum established within the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal (PIPAP)
• Identifying gaps in baseline information about the location and coverage status of protected areas at national level as well as improving the account of the Indigenous Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) and Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (OECMs) occurring in the region, and contributing this information to the regional observatory at SPREP
• Providing peer review for the draft Regional Capacity Development Action Plan for Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation, initiated by BIOPAMA
• Contributing to a shared support vision for the Pacific Islands Community Co-adaptive management Course and other prominent capacity development initiatives
• Improving the understanding of protected area issues at upcoming regional conservation forums, the Pacific Islands Round Table annual meeting, SPREP member country fora, and the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016
• Building a better information and context base toward future regional state of protected areas descriptions and reporting
Members interested in joining the PAWG will be widespread: interested and committed representatives of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific, regional agencies, donors, IUCN Commissions and members, NGOs, IGOs, countries/territories, active individuals, and representative of other Pacific Islands Round Table working groups such as the Marine Sector working group and the Pacific Invasives Partnership.
In July 2105, the Protected Areas Working Group will be convening a two day workshop, holding an official launch, and providing a formal presentation to the 2015 annual meeting of the Pacific Islands Round Table for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in Suva.
For more information:
Amanda Wheatley, Ecosystem and Biodiversity Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme
Tony O’Keeffe, Protected Areas Co-ordinator
BIOPAMA (Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management)
IUCN Oceania Regional Office