The Cook Islands has a long history of caring for its natural environment and resources through cultural and traditional customs. This has been transformed over the years, becoming ingrained in the Cook Islands national frameworks through the development of Protected Areas and commitments to global agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Collecting and collating all information on the range of protected areas across Rarotonga was the focus of a one day gathering of over 20 stakeholders in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), on 6 September 2018. This information will then be consolidated and subsequently shared on the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal, a one stop resource for all information on protected areas in the Cook Islands and the region.
“Today is about creating an opportunity for all to sit down together and share knowledge on Protected Areas. We now have the Marae Moana in place, our whole EEZ now declared a marine park, the key principal of which is integrated participatory engagement,” said Mr Joseph Brider, the Secretary of the Cook Islands National Environment Service.
“We want this workshop to engage that principal of integrated participatory environment, and come to the table to use the tools we have now. We are grateful to SPREP for their support for this.”
The Protected Islands Protected Area Portal (PIPAP), the Pacific regional version of the BIOPAMA Observatory, is hosted by SPREP and is the premier source of information and resources on Pacific protected areas. It contains information on protected areas from across the Pacific region. This includes national parks, other areas meeting international standards for protected areas, but also community conservation efforts, traditional area-based management measures, managed fishing zones and other locally managed areas.
The information collated over the one day workshop will help guide missing or conflicting content on protected areas in the Cook Islands currently stored in the PIPAP.
Backing up and sharing this information allows national services, partners and stakeholders to freely contribute, view and utilise information to make informed decisions about the management of national protected areas, biodiversity values, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, species and habitats, pressures and threats, management and governance.
“I am pleased to be able to work closely with and assist the Cook Islands to organise and consolidate their protected area information this week,” said Mr Vainuupo Jungblut, Protected Areas Officer of SPREP.
“Well organised and managed information will assist the Cook Islands to make better informed decisions for protected area planning and management and will assist with national reporting on protected area commitments at the national, regional and global level. ”
The workshop is a partnership between the Cook Islands National Environment Service and SPREP through the BIOPAMA programme an initiative of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States financed by the European Union’s 11th European Development Fund. BIOPAMA is jointly implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (EC-JRC). In the Pacific region, BIOPAMA is implemented by IUCN’s Oceania Regional Office (IUCN ORO) in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
The partnership between IUCN Oceania Regional Office and SPREP has seen the enhancement of the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal (PIPAP), the ‘one-stop shop’ for all information on Protected Areas maintained by SPREP with partners and Members.