Palau, 23 February, 2018 – Palau has been a regional leader in the Pacific through its investment in its rich biodiversity by establishing the Palau Protected Areas Network (PAN) in 2003 and creating the world's first shark sanctuary in 2009, banning all commercial shark fishing in its waters. These milestones together with related initiatives such as the Palau Green Fee and the Palau Pledge have further strengthened the country's environmental commitments. Palau's initiatives are aligned with the Micronesia Challenge, a commitment to conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia.
In the frame of the BIOPAMA programme, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), was pleased to provide support to Palau by convening a technical workshop on protected areas management on 20 February 2019. The support from BIOPAMA is part of its Pacific regional activities, with the aim to improve the long-term conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in protected areas and surrounding communities.
The technical workshop brought together key stakeholders: state-based protected area managers, the Palau Conservation Society, Palau PAN Office, The Nature Conservancy Palau and Palau National Marine Sanctuary and enabled them to share and discuss common protected area issues and challenges faced at the national level.
“The workshop today was a great opportunity to bring key national players together and heralds the beginning of closer collaboration and commitment to continuously review and validate our data in support of reporting on our protected area related national, regional and international commitments,” said Ms. Joyce K Beouch of the Palau PAN Office. “Thank you again to SPREP and BIOPAMA for the assistance to move this important undertaking forward.”
The Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal (PIPAP), a ‘one stop online portal’ for all Pacific protected areas information, was also a key feature of the workshop which involved basic training on its features and use. Furthermore, a review of the current data on protected areas in Palau was carried out during the workshop. The next step will be to upload this verified data to the PIPAP and the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA).
The workshop also brought together the BIOPAMA Programme and the Inform project in Palau, which have complementary objectives on information and data backup and management to strengthen successful outcomes for both nature conservation and State of the Environment reporting in Palau.
"We are pleased to be able to combine our key information and data projects in our work with our Member countries to help them in their conservation endeavours for which information and data plays a key role,” said Ms Amanda Wheatley, Biodiversity Adviser at SPREP. “While this training was catalysed by the regional inception meeting of the BIOPAMA programme that was held in June last year in which we were requested to expand our country visits to include support provided for protected area information improvement, it also enabled us to link this and our PIPAP work with the Inform project ensuring that our Members receive the best support possible.”
Linkages between the Inform and BIOPAMA initiatives were highlighted to show how they can benefit and catalyse Palau’s efforts to manage environmental information and specific protected area data over the long term.
Similar technical consultations and training also took place in September and October, 2018 in the Cook Islands and Tuvalu, with missions to take place in Niue and Vanuatu in the coming months. The technical workshop on protected areas, held on 20 February 2019, is a partnership between the Palau Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism (MNRET), the Palau Protected Area Network (PAN) Office and SPREP through the BIOPAMA programme.