Monday, December 17, 2007

TNC Micronesia Program and Kimbe Bay Participate in SEM-Pasifika Training

Freda Paiva, Conservation Research Assistant, and Annisah Sapul, Community Conservation Specialist, from the TNC Kimbe Field Office and Mae Bruton Adams, MIC Coordinator, TNC Micronesia Program, spent 1 week in Galahi, attending the first SEM-Pasifika Training of the trainers workshop.

The objective of the workshop was to build the capacity of the participants as SEM-Pasifika trainers, to provide participants with methodologies and procedures on socioeconomic monitoring, based on the SEM-Pasifika; and finally to receive input on the SEM-Pasfika draft.

The workshop was a success in many ways. It not only provide the trainees with tools to successfully implement a socioeconomic monitoring projects and allowed the participants to provide feedback on the SEM-Pasifika, but it created a greater appreciation of socioeconomic monitoring and its importance in the improvement of site management. It also fostered an opportunity for the participants to learn from the participants and their areas of work. It created an atmosphere of learning for each of the participants as they shared their experiences in their areas of work, as well as provided an occasion to develop ties to foster networks amongst the different agencies. SEM-Pasifika training also provided an opening for future cross training activities between TNC staff in the Micronesia and Melanesia programs.

SEM-Pasifika Workshop

After 2.5 yearsof discussion and collaboration, the Pacific region now has a draft se tof socio-economic monitoring guidelines that incorporates indicators used by the Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA) Network, TheSecretariat of the Pacific Community, and the Global SocioeconomicMonitoring Initiative (SocMon) into a user-friendly format.

On October 29-November 2, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)and the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) co-organized a training on socio-economic monitoring in the Pacific region (SEM-Pasifika). The training workshop also served as a field test of the draft SEM-Pasifika guidelines.

The workshop was held in Galahi, Papua New Guinea, following a regional conference on conservation and the communities. Attendees hailed from Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Hawaii, Fiji, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Papua NewGuinea, Solomon Islands and Indonesia. Seven Paupa New Guinea local community members also joined the training from our field sites of Bwasitau, Sawasawaga and Sunaleilei villages.

The training itself went very well-- after a day and a half of learning background information in the classroom, the participants split intot hree groups and each group was turned loose on a local community. Each group actually undertook the seven steps of a socio-economic assessment starting with defining goals and objectives and ending with making recommendations for adaptive management. As an example, Sawasawaga village had recently implemented a no-take marine reserve in exchangefor construction of a new school. The group surveying in Sawasawaga decided to focus their survey questions on community expectations for and attitudes toward the new marine reserve. Villagers reported seeing increases in certain species such as sea cucumber within the reserve but also expressed some safety concerns-- the location of the marine reserve forces villagers to travel much further by boat, sometimes in poor weather conditions, in order to catch fish for consumption and income.

For the field test on the draft guidelines, the participants provided agreat deal of constructive criticism to streamline and improve the draft guidelines. This input will be incorporated in the coming months before finalization of the SEM-Pasifika guidelines.

(The pictures were taken by Michael Guilbeaux, CCN)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chuuk Conservation Society

The Chuuk Conservation Society (CCS) was registered as an environmental NGO in September of 2005. The establishment of the organization was made possible through the active support of concerned citizens who represented areas in academics, religion, conservation, traditions and culture, communities, and others.
The first major gathering of these concerned citizens took place in September 2004 at the Micronesians in Island Conservation (MIC) retreat. Following, the Chuuk Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP), it stated that one of its objectives was ‘by the year 2006 an operational environmental NGO will be established’, and that the lead agency for this particular objective be the Chuuk Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The mission of CCS is to ‘preserve and protect Chuuk’s natural resources to sustain community livelihoods by working with community partners’. The organization aims to achieve this through the following objectives:
1. Protect the cultural and natural resources of our communities by establishing an initial framework for a state-wide protected/managed area network.
2. Build the effectiveness and accountability of CCS by providing the necessary tools and resources to carry out its mission.

CCS May be a new organization but it has already established good working relationships with numerous key partners who share the same vision for effective environmental conservation/protection. Its Board includes members from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Marine Resources (DMR), Chuuk Women Council (CWC), College of Micronesia-FSM (COM-FSM), and other community-based organizations.

Through its membership in the Micronesia in Island Conservation (MIC) Network and Pacific Islands Marine Protected Areas Community (PIMPAC), CCS completed its first 2 year integrated strategic and financial plan; had its Board Training; and participated in the training on development of management plans. CCS is also furthering its conservation efforts with the PEW Fellowship.
There are a number of communities in Chuuk that have already started efforts to protect their marine areas. Two of these areas are the Parem Marine Areas and the Epinup Mangrove andMarine Areas, both of which are Areas of Biological Significance (ABS).

The Department of Marine Resources with the PPO community has made initial conservations efforts regarding the Polle Piannu Pass, which is a major grouper spawning area located on the vast Chuuk barrier reef. Another community-led marine area is situated at the Fefan UFO reefs, which is maintained as a conservation area although it is not listed as an ABS.
These are but a few examples of on-going community-led marine protected areas projects that are in affect here in Chuuk. These efforts are likewise complimented by traditional methods of conservation that our forefathers used and are still quite prevalent and very effective today. Such traditional practices of “pwau” and “mechen” are local methods that go hand in hand with the global environmental conservation movement and exemplify a vision for the old ways and the new to intertwine in unified, joint efforts to preserve, protect and maintain the pristine splendor of our islands and her natural beauty.
CCS is currently staffed by Curtis Graham, who is the Program Manager tasked with implementing and assisting with projects that the CCS organization is involved with. Curtis went to school at Xavier High School in Chuuk and later on Punahou High School in Hawaii. He graduated with a BA degree in 2005 from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts and has since returned to Chuuk to live.
The Chuuk Conservation Society is a relatively young organization with high hopes for a future of service for the people of Chuuk. CCS hopes to do what it can to help preserve Chuuk’s natural island beauty through collaboration with the people as well as the numerous outside organizations that share a common desire to keep Chuuk a paradise haven of natural beauty and splendor.
Please feel free to contact them regarding any assistance or inquiries that you may have. They can be reached via phone at (691) 330-7227, email ( or simply stop by the office which is located across the Bank of FSM.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Majuro, RMI, Hosts 9th MIC Retreat

On June 5th, 2007, the Micronesians in Island Conservation held their 9th MIC Retreat, inMajuro. The Retreat was from the 5th to the 8th of June.

The members of MIC were given a great opportunity to hear the stories of conservation work within the Marshall Islands. The MIC welcoming dinner was opened by a speech given by the Vice President of the Marhsall Island – Minister Whitten Phillipo.

Afterwards, members of MIC were given the opportunity to hear about 9 different conservation projects within the Marshall Islands. These stories were real testimonials of the resilience and perseverance of the people of the Marshall Island.

Members of MIC were given the opportunity to hear about conservation work taking place in the Honduras and Nicaragua and the Caribbean. Julio Carcamo, the Director TNC Honduras and Nicaragua program and Stacey Moultrie, the Senior Policy Advisor, Northern Caribbean Program, both attend the retreat.

Julio shared his experiences with conservation in countries with extreme poverty. Although Julio’s area of work was oceans away, the members of MIC could relate.

Stacey gave the group an update on the Caribbean Challenge and gave members of MIC some ideas that the MIC could not only apply to their areas of work, but also towards the Micronesia Challenge.

MIC also gained 4 new members, Angelo Villagomez, Executive Director of the Marianna Islands Nature Alliance (MINA), Saipan; Joseph Aitaro, Palau Protected Areas Network (PAN) Coordinator, Palau; Fabian Iyar, Executive Director, Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC), Palau and Romina King, NOAA Fellow, Guam. These four new members bring to the MIC a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as a passion and commitment to work with others to find ways to sustain our natural heritage.

Collaborating for Strategic Action Planning

People from a range of different sectors are affected by the damage caused by invasive species such as ants, rats and weeds, and multi-disciplinary coordination and collaboration is key to effective action to tackle them at the national or state level. “Effective action” also requires a plan, defining what the future will look like and giving a “road map” to show how to get there. Opportunities for collaboration and coordination of activities can be easily spotted in a multi-sector plan, allowing for better use of resources, both human and financial.

In November 2006 the Pohnpei invasive species team produced simple, realistic multi-agency action plans for priority invasive species that were seen as a model by other invasive species groups in the region. The activity was facilitated by Lucille Apis- Overhoff of the TNC, Pohnpei office, who offered to assist other countries in the sub-region to carry out the same activity. The offer was taken up by Kosrae State and the Marshall Islands, and recognizing the value of coordination, the MIC and Pacific Invasives Learning Network (PILN) coordinators came together with Lucille Apis Overhoff of the TNC to facilitate the workshops.

An invasive species strategic action planning workshop was held from 25 – 26 April 2007 in Kosrae state, hosted by the Department of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Tofol. For Kosrae this is the first multi-agency workshop focused on invasive species to be held, and the formation of a Kosrae invasive species taskforce (KIST) along the model of the Pohnpei one seen as one of the most useful outputs of the workshop.

The newly established KIST identified 6 thematic areas of concern for invasive species management in Kosrae State: Funding, Public awareness, Commitment, Capacity building, Coordination, and Policy and Legislation. Longer-term strategic goals and objectives have been established for each thematic area. KIST identified three species of terrestrial plant for immediate priority action in the current and next financial years, Mikania micrantha mile-a-minute vine (Mah Tepat), Luceana sp. tree (Tangantangan) and Ischaemum sp. grass (Mah Sacnsrihk). Marine invasive species are recognised as important and flagged for future action.

The KIST Strategic Action Plan establishes goals, objectives, activities, collaborators, timeframe, funding sources and estimated costs for control of these three species. Work plans have been developed to address these terrestrial plants, linked to the KIST mission, and carry through to the end of 2008.

Following this, an invasive species strategic action planning workshop was held from 3 – 4 May 2007 in the Marshall Islands. As with Kosrae, the formation of a Marshall Islands invasive species taskforce (MIIST) was seen as one of the most useful outputs of the workshop.

The newly established MIIST identified four thematic areas of concern for invasive species management in the Republic of the Marshall Islands: Education, Public Awareness and Research, Funding and Resources, Prioritisation, Planning and Collaboration, and Legislation. Longer-term strategic goals and objectives have been established for each thematic area. MIIST identified three areas for immediate priority action in the current and next financial years: ants, a package of 10 terrestrial weeds, and marine threats, including ballast water. Insect pests and diseases to breadfruit, urban rats and feral pigeons are recognised as important and flagged for future action.

The MIIST Strategic Action Plan establishes goals, objectives, activities, collaborators, timeframe, funding sources and estimated costs for control of these three areas. Work plans have been developed to address these terrestrial plants, linked to the MIIST mission, and carry through to the end of 2008.

“If you fail to plan you plan to fail”
“If you are prepared you have already won half the battle”

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

MINA Hires Their First Executive Director

Hafa Adai, I'm Angelo Villagomez and I am the new (and first!) Executive Director for the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance. Depending on who you ask, I am either a Chamorro born American or an American educated Chamorro. Both are true. Take your pick.

My Mom is an American from the East Coast and my Dad is a Chamorro from Saipan. Although I was born here, I left Saipan when I was 3 years old. I visited a few times over the years, but I can't say that I ever lived here until recently.

This is where I lived just a little over a year ago:

Angelo VillagomezDon’t you just love Japan?

After 24 years living in the US, England, and Japan, I returned to Saipan last April to work on a coral reef outreach project with the Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council. The goal of the year long project is to involve the local community, especially coral reef stakeholders, in the management of our coral reefs. I also help coordinate an environmental coalition of government, community groups, businesses, and individuals called Beautify CNMI! I am the Chairman of the Beautify CNMI! Restoration Committee. The Restoration Committee plants trees, cleans up litter and illegal dumpsites, and restores hiking trails, and natural, historical, and tourist sites.

I received my Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Richmond in 2000. College was so much fun that I went a second time. I received my second Bachelors in Environmental Policy from Rollins College in 2004. At Rollins College I was the 2004 Environmental Studies Student of the Year.

In my spare time I practice with the CNMI Men’s National Soccer Team, SCUBA dive, promote the We Love Saipan Network, and post to my blog, The Saipan Blog.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

MIC Media Coordinator is the new Grant Writer for the FSM National Government

MIC Media Coordinator Olivier Wortel is the new Grant Writer for the FSM National Government. In the letter sent to all four state Governors, FSM department/agency/office heads, to the various Ambassadors to the FSM stationed in Pohnpei, as well as the FSM Congress announcing the hiring, President Urusemal stated that it is time to "more actively pursue, organize, implement and monitor a cohesive program of external aid outside of Compact funds."

Discussing his new role, Olivier has stated: "I specifically include NGO's alongside the government in the potential collaborative process and participation in and access to the grant writing and international Aid Coordination Unit that I am a part of. I am certainly available and open to ideas from all of the MIC group in this capacity."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

New MIC Coordinator

The Micronesians in Island Conservation Network has a new Coordinator!
Mrs. Mae M. Bruton Adams brings to the position a wealth of experience from previous work at the Federated States of Micronesian (FSM) Mission to the United Nations, the Reich and Tang Unit Investment Trust in New York, and recently as the French Honorary Consul to the FSM for the last 4 years. Mae is a bright, energetic and enthusiastic Micronesian who was born in the US and raised in the FSM state of Chuuk. She currently lives in Pohnpei with her husband and four young children. She is a great addition to MIC and The Nature Conservancy Micronesia Team.
Susi Menazza Olmsted, MIC Coordinator for the last two years, will leave Micronesia in May for Eastern Europe to be closer to her family. She will continue working for TNC on project involving the Global Island Partnership.
Mae Adams holding her youngest child, daughter Ke'avae.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

MIC supports rat eradication project in Pohnpei

Located a few miles from Pohnpei, Ahnd Atoll is one of FSM’s Priority Action Areas and Pohnpei’s top marine area of biological significance. The atoll is home to 13 species of reptiles (including the hawksbill and green turtles), 25 bird species, 7 mammals, several species of land crabs, and hundreds of marine species, but its terrestrial biodiversity is threatened by two invasive rat species. The Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP) in partnership with Island Conservation (IC), and the Pacific Invasives Initiative (PII) has developed a plan to eradicate rats from Ahnd Atoll. From January 24 to February 26, 2007, CSP and IC will initiate the Ahnd Atoll eradication project by conducting a trial eradication on 5 small islands in Pohnpei to test and perfect rat eradication methods that will later be used for the Ahnd Atoll rat eradication. Conservationists from Kosrae, Yap, Guam, Fiji, Samoa, New Caledonia, and Tahiti will join the CSP-IC team to conduct the trial eradication.
The project’s unveiling ceremony took place in Pohnpei on January 24, 2007. The project is funded by a grant from the Australian Government’s Regional National Heritage Programme (RNHP), and is supported by several agencies and organizations, including the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT), the Pacific Invasives Learning Network (PILN), Pohnpei Invasive Species Taskforce (PIST), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Micronesians in Island Conservation (MIC).

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Trainings on Time Management and Presentation Skills for MIC member organizations

In early January 2007, MIC members, their staff and some of their partners in Majuro, Pohnpei and Guam had the opportunity to attend MIC-sponsored trainings on Time Management and Presentation Skills. TNC Learning and Development Consultant Dana Inerfeld spent two weeks in Micronesia and kindly agree to make some changes in her itinerary to share her knowledge with local conservation organizations and agencies. Some 45 people attended the trainings, with the highest participation in Guam (25 people.)