Conservation Society of Pohnpei’s Marine Program helps to establish and manage Marine Protected Areas (MPA) and combines elements of traditional marine resource management with modern scientific methods to empower local communities to protect Pohnpei’s fragile marine biodiversity.
CSP’s Terrestrial Program focuses its efforts and resources on the creation and management of Watershed Forest Reserves around the island, the development of Mangrove Forest Reserves in collaboration with local communities, and the control of harmful invasive species.
Unlike Youth-to-Youth and the Green Road Show, which target elementary age students, CSP tries to undertake all possible awareness approaches to ensure that our message is dispersed to all of Pohnpei’s population. Therefore, CSP came up with another environmental awareness program called “Community Outreach” that targets community members. This program goes out to communities and targets the young and old, and people in school and out of school.
The Micronesia Shark Campaign originated in Pohnpei State, Federated State of Micronesia, as a collaboration between the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) and the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP). In 2011, leaders (Presidents, Governors and Law Makers) at the Micronesia Chief Executive Summit and the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures Meeting passed resolutions to officially begin the process of creating a regional sanctuary where shark fishing would be prohibited. The Micronesia Shark Campaign aims to advance policy efforts for shark conservation and management in the Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the US Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands specific to establishing shark protection laws at the state and national levels and achieving a Micronesia Shark Sanctuary by the end of 2012.
From a terrestrial standpoint, the greatest threat to biodiversity in Pohnpei is the illegal growing of sakau (kava or Piper methysticum) in the Watershed Forest Reserve (WFR). Traditionally the crop was grown mainly in the lowlands, however the demand for this crop has become so high that people are increasingly moving illegally into the WFR and clearing trees to plant sakau. Sakau farmers move to the WFR because Sakau grows faster there than in the low lands enabling farmers to meet the high demand for the crop more quickly.
The central mission of CSP's terrestrial program is the creation and management of Watershed Forest Reserves (WFR), intended to help preserve Pohnpei’s pristine upland forests and protect the rich biodiversity found within these important ecosystems. Demarcating and monitoring the Watershed Forest Reserves around the island remains a core objective.
CSP welcomed the Micronesia Ethnobotany Project (ethno project) to its team in January 2006. The ethno project, formerly of The Nature Conservancy, was established in 1997 by its founder Dr. Michael Balick of the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). With funding provided by the NYBG Mrs. Fransisca Sohl supervises the ethno project and current team members include Ranger Relio Lengsi, and Ranger Primo Eperiam.
CSP has worked with the Pohnpei State Invasive Species Task Force on a number of projects to raise awareness about the most invasive plant species in Pohnpei State. CSP has also been busy with weed eradication on Pohnpei, targeting extremely harmful species such as False Sakau (Piper arithrium), Ivy Gourd (Coccinia grandis), Chain of Love (Antigonon leptopus), and Mile-a-Minute (Mikania micrantha).
There are eleven Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that have been designated by law. CSP currently works in close collaboration with seven of these areas: Nahtik and Kehpara in Kitti, Dehpek/Takaieu and Mwand (Dekehos) in U, Sapwitik in Net, and Namwen Na and Namwen Nanhngih in Madolenihmw. The goal is to establish a collaborative MPA management network. This entails the building of community support for the MPAs, the education of citizens to improve their compliance, and the development of the capacity of conservation enforcement officers to impose the established rules and regulations.
The ultimate aim of CSP's Marine Program is to assist the Pohnpei State Government, the municipal governments, and the local communities in developing sound management for all of the inshore habitats and resources within state waters. Currently, the program’s main focus is the creation, management, and monitoring of the Marine Protected Area (MPA) network, including Grouper Spawning and Aggregation (SPAG); fish and coral monitoring; and community outreach and involvement.
After countless hours of hard work, the partnership between the Nanpei Family, UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) program, and Pohnpei State Government finally paid off. And Atoll was finally nominated becoming the nation’s 2nd Biosphere Reserve following Utwe/Walung Biosphere Reserve in Kosrae. And Atoll is one of the most significantly unique islands in Micronesia. The reserve will contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species, and genetic diversity. On a global scale, the oceanic islands of the FSM are home to some of the most biologically diverse coral reefs in the world.
Seagrass monitoring has been carried out on Pohnpei since 2001 by Mr. Ahser Edwards (COM-FSM). In 2007, as part of our expanding role in the protection of Pohnpei’s marine resources, CSP partnered with Mr.Edwards at the two existing seagrass sampling sites, Ipwal-Sokehs and Rohi-Kitti, and added a new site, the Marine Protected Area of Sapwitik Island. As part of this expansion CSP and partners added a sea grass monitoring project to the monitoring program in association with SeagrassNet.
CSP continues its aim in promoting alternative economic development with MPA communities. CSP completed yet another great year in 2006, in close partnership with the Marine Environmental Research Institute of Pohnpei (MERIP), through working with community members in establishing and maintaining sponge farms.
The Green Road Show is a mobile, all-inclusive and entertaining environmental education program directed toward Pohnpei’s fifth graders. It is the first environmental education program focused specifically on Pohnpei’s conservation issues. The program is run by two Environmental Educators that visit all the primary schools six times throughout the school year. Each session is centered on one of four environmental topics: Upland Forest, Mangroves, Coral Reef, and Waste and Pollution.
Borrowing from the very successful Youth-to-Youth public education and awareness program in the Marshall Islands, the Conservation Society of Pohnpei has tailored the approach to improve environmental awareness and education in Pohnpei. Together with partners, CSP is coordinating the Pwulopwul ohng me Pwulopwul (Youth-to-Youth) environmental program in seven schools. The program partners each school with a state agency or non-governmental organization to work on an environmental project throughout the school year.
The 2004-05 school year the education program implemented an Environmental Club for grades 9-12 from three local schools. The club meets twice a month, and takes part in workshops, lectures and a number of different activities, like town clean-ups. The Environmental Club is intended to present Pohnpei specific and global environmental information to interested students by participating in hands-on activities which are relevant to conservation efforts. The club also hopes to promote science, math, and environmental careers and support the students in becoming peer and community educators for their environment and ‘owners’ of their natural heritage.