The Ridge to Reef project integrates freshwater and coastal area management to emphasis the connections between natural and social systems from the mountain “ridges” of volcanic islands through to coastal watersheds and habitats, and across coastal lagoons to the fringing reef environments.
The workshop will run today and tomorrow will be opened by the Minister for Environment, Kiriau Turepu.
Participants include National Environment Service officers from the southern group islands, representatives from the Ministry of Marine Resources and Ministry of Agriculture and island councillors, mayors and Tamuera Ariki from Mauke.
“The participation of our outer island participants is necessary as the majority of Ridge-to-Reef projects will be based solely in the southern group,” a project spokesman said.
The project aims to achieve its objectives through the implementation of two components:
strengthening the management of protected areas, and effective mainstreaming of biodiversity in key sectors to lessen threats within “production landscapes.”
The project is coordinated by the National Environment Service and carried out by the Ridge-to-Reef team within the Island Futures Division.
The Ridge-to-Reef team consists of project coordinator Maria Tuoro, project officer Olaf Rasmussen and finance and administration officer Tatiana Paulo.
Also involved in the workshop are Johan Robinson, the UNDP Regional Technical Assistant based in Bangkok, Thailand, Cook Islands coordinator Tessa Taufua and Taufao Taufao, both from the UNDP Apia office.
The project aims to enhance the Cook Islands capacities and capabilities to effectively manage its protected areas and sustainably manage its “productive landscapes,” while taking into account food security and livelihoods.
It will look at Marae Moana – the Cook Islands Marine Park (CIMP), and the establishment and strengthening of various forms of protected and locally managed areas within the park, including protected natural areas, community conservation areas and ra’ui sites.
Project Coordinator Maria Tuoro says, As ‘shareholders’ of our natural resources, we all have an obligation to step up and get involved in ensuring that the resources we enjoy are still there for our future generations”.
The project will also support the Cook Islands in maintaining traditional resource management and conservation systems and approaches, including a leading role for traditional and local leaders and communities, while also integrating these traditional systems into a formal legal and institutional system of protected areas.