Building Science Capacity in Bismarck-Solomon Seas and Fiji Marine Ecoregions

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Pacific General

Asia/Pacific > Pacific Ocean > Fiji
Asia/Pacific > Pacific Ocean > Papua New Guinea
Asia/Pacific > Pacific Ocean > Solomon Islands
Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Indonesia

The Solomon Islands consists of 6 large islands, 20 medium, and numerous smaller islets, reefs and atolls. Solomon Islands.
© WWF-Canon / Soh Koon CHNG

Summary

For almost 20 years, WWF has been working to protect critical marine species and habitats in the Western Pacific - the world’s richest area for marine biodiversity. It has tackled everything from better management of protected areas to certification for the marine aquarium industry.

Now, in an exciting expansion of this work, WWF is focusing on creating at least 100 new protected areas and linking them in ecological networks that protect species and thereby overall diversity.

Background

The Solomon Islands support a particularly diverse environment, with lowland and swamp forests, mangroves, lagoons, coral reefs, atolls and barrier islands all forming a spectacular natural mosaic.

The Fiji Barrier Reef ecoregion also includes a huge diversity of marine habitats: estuaries, mangrove communities, seagrass beds, sand and mudflats and drowned coral reefs.

But conventionally legislated marine reserves have not always worked effectively. Although the coral reefs of the Bismarck-Solomon Seas and Fiji are in relatively healthy condition, threats are increasing and marine habitats and ecosystems near coastal population centres show signs of heavy exploitation and damage.

Objectives

1. Improve the capacity of marine and coastal programmes to deliver data on conservation.

2. Train students, other personnel and stakeholders on the use of scientific monitoring tools.

3. Strengthen the links between local universities and WWF’s marine and coastal conservation effort.

4. Deploy WWF US resources to expand existing capacity within the Western Pacific WWF marine ecoregion programmes.

Solution

WWF believes the key to success here is building in-country scientific capacity and monitoring tools. Critical to this, in turn, is providing students with access to field projects and studies that provide practical experience in conservation science. In regions such as Melanesia and Indonesia, local universities have extremely limited funds for field projects.

With this proposal, WWF seeks to support at least 8 students in the Bismarck-Solomon and Fiji ecoregions, and the project is also designed to enable local students to attend research forums like the events hosted every year by Cambridge University and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The programme will deliver vital data on the performance of conservation programmes. It also helps focus the WWF United States marine conservation science programme on working with WWF programmes in the Western Pacific.

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