SPREP Suva supports students with environmental learning

27 September 2016 - Environmental Science students of the Fiji National University (FNU) visited the office of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Suva this week to learn about the organisation's conservation and biodiversity protection work in the region.

The second year students are enrolled in a course on Biodiversity and Conservation in Fiji and the South Pacific Region and are currently covering the conservation of biodiversity mainly focusing on community based conservation, protected areas, ex-situ and in-situ conservation and ecological restoration.

Speaking to the students, SPREP's Project Manager of the Pacific Ecosystems-based Adaptation to Climate Change (PEBACC) based in Suva, Fiji, Herman Timmermans highlighted that the Pacific islands now contains over 15 million square kilometres of marine protected areas with the newest announcements of marine reserves from the United Kingdom and the United States this month.

"These latest announcements were well received by SPREP Director General of the organisation, Mr. Kosi Latu congratulated United Kingdom and United States for their bold moves."

FNU students outside the SPREP Suva OfficeFNU students outside the SPREP Suva office. Photo: J.Shem/SPREP

"These large marine protected areas within our Pacific island waters, provide a 'blue belt' of protection against impacts on ocean health and marine species. These are vital steps to conserve our ocean and the life it supports. Despite the challenges we face, these actions bring hope that yes, we can make a difference and save our oceans by working together." Mr.Timmermans added.

In explaining SPREP's efforts in species conservation and biodiversity protection in the Pacific, Mr. Timmermans enlightened the students with information about SPREP's 2016-2017 regional campaign on whales.

"The SPREP region is home to over half the world's species of cetaceans, whales and dolphins, including some of the least known. The 'Protect Pacific Whales – Ocean Voyagers' provides the opportunity to celebrate these magnificent creatures, promote their revenue-earning potential for coastal communities who can introduce customers to them in a responsible and sustainable way, and address the problems facing them as ocean-dwellers that will surely ultimately impact us all."

Speaking on behalf of the students, FNU lecturer, Lia Bogitini who accompanied the students to the SPREP office is grateful for the SPREP sessions with the students.

"This is our first visit to SPREP and we are thankful for the insightful and interactive presentations. We hope that this will become an annual environmental learning event for the students." Ms. Bogitini said.

SPREP's work in Fiji includes ecosystem management through a Project called the Pacific Ecosystem based Adaptation to Climate Change (PEBACC).

The PEBACC Project is a five year project implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in partnership with the governments of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.

The Project focusses on strengthening and protecting the role of natural ecosystem services to enhance resilience to climate change. In Fiji the Project sites are Taveuni Island and the Macuata Province.

For further information please contact Ms. Jilda Shem, PEBACC Communications Officer, jildas@sprep.org or +679 3311382.
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