News and Updates
USP becomes the ninth member of the Pacific Island Roundtable for Nature ConservationThe University of the South Pacific (USP) officially became the ninth member of the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation (PIRT). The PIRT Membership Agreement was signed Wednesday 30 March by PIRT Chair and Regional Director of the IUCN Oceania Regional Office, Taholo Kami and Vice Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra, at the conclusion of the PIRT Planning Meeting with the Heads of Organisation in Suva, Fiji.
PIRT is a coalition of partners who work together to increase effective conservation action in the Pacific Islands region. Formed in 1998 PIRT is the key coordination mechanism for the implementation of the new Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in the Pacific Islands region 2014-2020.
L - R: Mr. Stuart Chape of SPREP, Professor Rajesh Chandra of USP, Mr. Taholo Kami of IUCN
Taholo Kami welcomed USP as an official PIRT member. "The partnership and collaboration with USP will further advance PIRT's member commitment to promote, facilitate and monitor progress regarding the new Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in the Pacific islands region 2014-2020 and the Principles for Nature Conservation in the region."
Mr Kami added, "With the participation of each of our conservation partners in the region under the Roundtable, the challenge now is to step up from where we are, not just in conservation but how we link conservation with sustainable development."
Professor Rajesh Chandra agreed that "there is a fair degree of excitement and a good understanding of the fact that we all need to collaborate for the good of the region. The University is very pleased to sign this Agreement. USP accepts the principle behind the Agreement and we would hope that what we do and what we have been doing is consonant with PIRT."
Further adding, "USP is committed to working as part of the broader team."
Lake Lanoto'o, a Protected Area in Samoa, photo courtesty of Stuart Chape
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is pleased to see the membership of the PIRT growing and welcomes others who are interested to contact them to learn more about The Roundtable and its work.
"With the challenges facing our biodiversity, it is good to see this mechanism that brings partners together working for the one common goal, is thriving and growing," said Mr. Stuart Chape the Director of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management Division at SPREP.
Roundtable Members who have signed the PIRT Membership Agreement and are official members are: Conservation International (CI), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Society for Conservation Biology Oceania (SCBO), SeaWeb, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Wildlife Conservation Society of Fiji (WCS) World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the newest member; the University of the South Pacific (USP).
The PIRT Planning Meeting with the Heads of Organisation is in preparation for the 19th PIRT Annual Meeting to be held in Fiji in July, 2016.
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September, 2015 Highlight: PIRT Side Event at the 26th Annual SPREP Meeting
Figure 1: Mr. Stuart Chape, SPREP and Mrs. Leilani Duffy Iosefa, CI signing the PIRT Membership Agreement.
He outlined and presented the achievements and lessons of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in Kiribati, which grew in protection from 12000 km2 in 2006 to a full closure of it 408,250 km2 area, on December 31, 2014 constituting over 11% of Kiribati's total Exclusive Economic Zone. The New Caledonia Marine Protected Area established in April 2014 is 1.4 million km2 shared lessons learnt from their MPA presented by Ms. Anne-Claire Goarant of New Caledonia, "one of the factors of the success of this was the we started small and grew with each achievement and we also ensured that consultation was a key factor along every step of the way."
Figure 2: Mr. Joseph Brider, Director, Cook Islands National Environment Service presenting on the Marae Moana.
Also featured during the side event was the Marae Moana, the Cook Islands Marine Park which is in the process of being established for the Southern Cook Islands. The Marae Moana is approximately 1 million km2 and was announced in 2012. Mr. Joseph Brider of Cook Islands explained how for them, they were starting small with plans to grow bigger.
"One of the biggest components in establishing the Marae Moana was the consultation with many audiences given that the different islands in the Cook Islands implemented different management methods for their ocean," said Mr. Brider.
The Twenty-Sixth SPREP Meeting of Officials is held at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel in Apia from 22 to 24 September, 2015.
The 21 Pacific island countries and territories that are members of SPREP are: American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.
The 5 Metropolitan members of SPREP are: Australia, France, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Joining the PIRT Team is the new Coordinator of the Roundtable, Payal Maharaj of Fiji Islands.
Figure 8: Participants of the 18th Annual PIRT MEETING