Summary of WTEC Recent Activities (updated 30 Jan 07)

Krab Kokonas Field Surveys Dec-2006 and Jan-2007 (RHNP-KKTF)
The Sanma Kokonas Krab Task Force carried out Coconut Crab population surveys on Santo, Malo and smaller outer islands in December 2006 and January 2007. The results will be presented at SANMA Provincial Council Chambers on 2nd February 2006.

Measuring Coconut Crab Coconut crab at bait station Scaling Coconut Crab

Malampa Provincial Workshop
The interest and support resulting from a WTEC workshop held with decision makers in Malampa province has exceeded our expectations. The workshop involved representatives of forests conservation projects, government officers, councillors, police, chiefs and area secretaries and was specifically designed to put forest conservation initiatives on the Malampa map. It highlighted the importance of conservation and sound resource management in meeting the needs of communities, linking conservation to the concept of sustainable economic development and the province's own tourism priority. By the end of the workshop, councillors had already placed environment as a top priority and put forward a related action plan. Since the workshop WTEC has received several reports of councillors and other participants actively promoting conservation and resource management at the community level. We are now looking to replicate this workshop in the other provinces.

Memorandums of Understanding (MOU)
WTEC has been successful in negotiating and signing MOUs with two provincial councils (Sanma and Malampa) and one government agency (Vanuatu Environment Unit). These provide a clear framework for co-operation and collaboration, particularly in delivering support to community-based conservation initiatives. They represent an important step forward in NGO/GO relations and we are already witnessing an increase in collaboration to achieve mutually complementary aims. This has particular relevance to this project and we are delighted with the progress we have been able to make.

Smokeless Stove Training at Wiawi
WTEC has provided training to the Wiawi community in constructing smokeless stoves to reduce the amount of firewood required by each family and thus reduce pressure on the surrounding forests. The stove also offers significant health and time benefits, especially for women who are usually responsible for cooking and collecting firewood. The Wiawi demonstration stove will now be used to encourage other to take up the idea in the surrounding area.

Agro-forestry Gardening at Wiawi
WTEC has provided support to the Wiawi community in establishing an agro-forestry garden directly behind the village under coconut plantations. Each family has a strip of land within the garden, which is being used to demonstrate alternative gardening practices that reduce the amount of forest that needs to be cleared each year. The gardens help maintain soil fertility and provide food, building materials and income possibilities without having to walk large distances. Land for subsistence agriculture is becoming short in many communities across Vanuatu and WTEC is now working on a major project to encourage and support the use of land under unproductive coconut plantations to reduce pressures on remaining forests and other natural resources.

Marine Protected Area Established at Leviamp 1
A workshop run with the community of Leviamp 1 has unexpectedly resulted in the establishment of a marine protected area to help manage their marine resources that have become seriously depleted. Ownership of the area has been under dispute for years and with six disputing parties, we have been delighted that they have been able to put the interests of the community ahead of their personal claims. This is an important first step towards the resolution of disputes associated with the Leviamp forest conservation initiative.

WTEC Membership Increase
WTEC's membership has nearly doubled since January 2005 and much of this increase can be attributed to the exposure WTEC and its forest conservation members have received through this project. The challenge now is to find effective ways of serving the priority needs and interest of this growing number of projects with limited staff and resources.

WTEC's Eco-Tourism and VanBirds Website
WTEC is promoting conservation initiatives engaged in tourism through its recently completed eco-tourism website. The aim is to attract the "right kind" of overseas visitors that can provide an alternative income to participating communities and reduce the pressure to liquidate natural assets for short-term monetary gains. The website is located at: www.positiveearth.org/bungalows. A complementary website to stimulate interest in birding in Vanuatu and encourage visitors to contribute their observations to the VanBirds database has also be initiated and setup by WTEC and can be found at www.positiveearth.org/vanbirds. Both websites have been funded by a volunteer working with WTEC.

Network of Village-based Resource Management Areas (VBRMA)
WTEC has helped facilitate a workshop to look at establishing a VBRMA support network of NGOs and government departments in Vanuatu, loosely following the LMMA model in Fiji. This network is intended to improve information exchange, collaboration and sharing of technical expertise in support of VBRMAs. It also has the potential to attract overseas financial support that would be beyond the reach of small NGOs.

Support for Forest Owner's Rights
WTEC regularly fields 'walk-in' requests concerning forest and related conservation issues and we have taken up the case of two landowners who have suffered damage to their forests and other natural resource caused by unauthorised logging operations. In Vanuatu, most conservation sites are not formally registered or protected under law and are afforded protection by chiefs/landowners who have the right to determine what takes place on their land. The breach of this fundamental right is therefore of great significance to those engaged in conservation activities.

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