Engaging countries for improved protected area information: BIOPAMA Pacific Programme

A country engagement mission was recently completed to the Kingdom of Tonga to initiate national activities under the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (BIOPAMA). This was one of several country missions conducted to consult and engage key stakeholders on protected area management.

A national stakeholder's workshop was completed as part of the mission, which brought together various stakeholders to discuss national and local level arrangements for protected areas which included protected areas administration and management, verifying capacity needs, determining gaps in protected area information, identifying current national data repositories and the types of data available and stored.

The Pacific islands Protected Area Portal (PIPAP) was presented as one of the key objectives of the workshop and participants were given an introductory online demonstration of the Portal managed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). The consistent message and issue from discussions during the workshop highlighted the need for national protected area data held by different ministries and organisations to be more organised and that they would like more control over the handling and sharing of their national data.

The key output of the workshop was a timeline of follow up actions and tasks to guide national activities over the next few months - including stakeholder coordination, data collection and collation, ways to address discrepancies and gaps in protected areas information including identification of sensitive data and how to manage these.

Participants of the national BIOPAMA stakeholders workshopParticipants of the national BIOPAMA stakeholders workshop. Photo: SPREP 

PIPAP is the main tool for the BIOPAMA Pacific programme and is a one-stop resource for Pacific island protected area information. It contains protected area news from the region, information on funding and training opportunities and access to technical expertise. PIPAP aims to store, manage and share data and information on protected areas and it will ensure the security and integrity of national data are properly managed in the long term. Analysis of country data in support of meeting their national priorities and regional and global targets is also a key function of the portal, once it is fully operational. The priority focus for PIPAP in the coming months is to actively engage countries to share their latest national protected area data for upload to the PIPAP.

"The portal is continuously being updated and we plan to incorporate additional features to analyse trends on national progress towards meeting global biodiversity targets, specifically Aichi target 11 on protected areas. " said Ms Easter Galuvao, Biodiversity Adviser at SPREP.

"There is an urgent need to make sure that global protected area datasets for the Pacific are up to date and reflect the definite numbers held at the national level. This is the data that are used for various global assessments and so it is important that it is current so as to provide an accurate and non-conflicting picture of actual country progress" observed Mr Vainuupo Jungblut, BIOPAMA Engagement Consultant at SPREP.

The main objective of the BIOPAMA programme is to assist the Pacific African Caribean and Pacific (ACP) countries to meet their national priorities and regional and global commitments related to protected areas. In particular, through improving access to and the availability of biodiversity data, development of information systems to improve decision making, improving access to the best available science and knowledge to enhance the work of existing institutions and networks on protected areas and building capacity for protected areas management. Under the programme, a country mission to Solomon Islands was completed in October 2016 and a country mission to Kiribati is confirmed for early December.

The Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme aims to address threats to biodiversity in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, while reducing poverty in communities in and around protected areas. It is an initiative of the ACP Group of States, financially supported by the European Union's 10th European Development Fund (EDF). It is implemented by IUCN in collaboration with regional partners such as SPREP in the Pacific region.
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