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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pacific Nature Conservation conference opens with "tru" PNG welcome

The 8th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas opened yesterday showcasing the heart of Papua New Guinea (PNG) culture and its people.

This week, Alotau in the Milne Bay province is home to the biggest Biodiversity conference for the Pacific region. The conference is coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the PNG Government and the Roundtable for Nature Conservation.

It was in 1975 that participants first gathered to consider the regions conservation issues. In his opening speech SPREP Director Asterio Takesy celebrated the huge achievements that have been made since then.

“In terms of general awareness and political commitment to the interlinked concepts of conservation, environmental management and sustainable development we have achieved a great deal, both regionally and globally.”

Recent key milestones across the Pacific region have included the launch of the Micronesia Challenge to place 30% of nearshore marine and 20% of forest resource across Micronesia under effective conservation by 2020; Fiji has committed to protecting and effectively managing at least 30% of its oceans and coastal waters and Kiribati has declared the Phoenix Islands a protected area, covering a huge area of almost 185,000 square kilometers.

Achievements are not only felt at the National level, but also within the communities of our Pacific countries and territories. It is the growing awareness of governments and communities of the need to conserve our Pacific heritage that is also being celebrated during the conference this week. ‘Conservation serving communities in a rapidly changing world’ is the theme.

“Outstanding examples include Tetepare Island in the Solomon Islands, the largest uninhabited island in the Pacific, conserved and managed by the Tetepare Dependents Association; the Bouma Heritage Park in Fiji conserved and managed by the people of Vanua Bouma, and the reintroduction of the Rimatara Lorikeet to Atiu in the Cook Islands with the cooperation of both the Atiu people and the Rimatara people in French Polynesia. Globally there is growing acknowledgement of the role of communities in driving the conservation agenda.”

The opening ceremony of the 8th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas was opened by the Governor General of PNG, Sir Paulias Matane.

The Conference ends on the 26th of October, it is then that the next host of the Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas will be announced.

Source: SPREP

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