The Green Fee supporting conservation efforts in Palau
- Published on 28 March 2012
27 March 2012, Palau - The Green Fee, an added departure tax in Palau will be increased in October this year to 30 US dollars. According to Island Times of Palau, this was formalised at the start of the week under the Fiscal Year 2012 National Budget Act signed by President Johnson Toribong.
Currently, the Green Fee is 15 US dollars and is funneled towards financing local community conservation efforts under the Protected Areas Network in Palau. This initiative began in November 2009 and has since raised approximately 2.26 million US dollars.
Pictured: Lake Ngardok Nature Reserve, Palau
© C. Joseph
The increase in the Green Fee is committed to improving the water and sewerage system of Palau.
"This is a success story for Palau," said Vainuupo Jungblut, SPREP's Ramsar Officer.
"A sustainable financing mechanism for protected areas, including wetlands, is something we all aspire to achieve, to see the advancing steps made by Palau with the Green Fee and how it can help generate community action is to be congratulated, this is a very good model for others to follow."
To date half a million dollars of the Green Fee revenue has been allocated towards supporting 11 community conservation efforts. In 2001 a Rapid Ecological Assessment of Palau was conducted, fortunately the requests for support under the Green Fee initiative are from those conservation sites that were identified as rich biodiversity habitats.
"This is helping communities manage protected area sites in Palau," said Joe Aitaro the Protected Areas Network Coordinator of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism of Palau.
"There is a process that each community must go through. This includes the completion of a nomination form, a review of the site and the management plan before we award the funds."
The money raised through the Green Fee also contributes to the Endowment Fund which will help Palau achieve their promise under the Micronesia Challenge. This challenge is a commitment by the Chief Executives of the Federated States of Micronesian, the Marshall Islands, Palau, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, to effectively conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.
Pictured: Mr. Joe Aitaro at the UNCBD COP 10
"Each country under the Micronesia Fund has an endowment fund to help raise further fund for which a board invests funds raised to seek low, middle and high income returns. We hope through those investments, the money we earn can be used to support the Micronesia Challenge."
To date Palau has raised six million dollars in the Endowment fund which was raised through the Green Fee as well as a pledge of one million dollars from partners The Nature Conservancy.
"The success of such a project really requires the political will to support this. Political will as well as a community that is really aware of the funds and how they can help drive conservation efforts. Your community becomes your biggest champions."
The Micronesia Challenge and the Palau Green Fee was presented during the 5th Oceania Regional Wetlands Meeting this week.
The 5th Oceania Regional Preparatory Meeting for the 11th Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands, hosted in Palau is from 26 to 30 March. The meeting is attended by Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
Partners that are attending the meeting are from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Palau Office, IUCN Oceania Regional Office, Palau Conservation Society, Birdlife International and the Micronesia Challenge Regional Office, among others.
The 5th Oceania Regional Meeting for Ramsar COP11 in Palau is funded by the Governments of Australia and France, with additional support from the UNEP and EU funded Multi-lateral Environment Capacity building project.