Cook Islands at conservation workshop

Saturday August 11, 2018 Written by Published in Environment
Participants in the Conservation Leadership Programme with staff (in green) from Botanica Nature Resort, Sulawesi. PHOTO: Benaya Simeon. 18081007 Participants in the Conservation Leadership Programme with staff (in green) from Botanica Nature Resort, Sulawesi. PHOTO: Benaya Simeon. 18081007

Last month the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) held an interactive workshop on project development, management and leadership over an intensive 14 days in North Sulawesi, Indonesia.


CLP is a partnership between Birdlife International, Fauna and Flora International, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Their course was aimed at young conservationists from the Asia-Pacific region, and was part of a support mechanism for recipients of CLP and Birdlife International project grants. Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) is the Cook Islands partner for Birdlife International, and was represented at the workshop by Teuru Tiraa-Passfield, a member of the TIS youth task force.

The first official day of the Conservation Management and Leadership Workshop was all about getting to know the 21 other participants and four CLP staff, all of whom were intelligent, kind, passionate people, says Tiraa-Passfield.

The next two days were spent learning about leadership: different leadership styles, how to interact with stakeholders and developing individual leadership strengths.

The project planning module focused on logical framework (log frame) development - an extremely useful tool when developing any project. This was followed by a module on communicating conservation for behaviour change, during which participants learned ways to engage communities and motivate positive behaviour change in conservation.

Other topics touched on included gender in conservation, project reporting, fundraising and donor relationships, and monitoring and evaluation.

Throughout the workshop, participants shared inspiring presentations on the projects they work on in their home countries. In Indonesia, this included efforts to conserve Thresher sharks, Siamese crocodiles, and Javan leopards, as well as to engage local communities in conservation work. The projects in Nepal are to conserve Taxus mairei (a species of small conifer tree which is valued for its medicinal properties) and white-rumped vultures.

In China, work is being done to protect coastal wetlands and giant pandas, while Vietnamese participants are working to protect threatened trees and primates. Rufous headed hornbills were the conservation focus in the Philippines project, while the conservationist from India has a project to protect horseshoe crabs.

In the Pacific, the focus was on restoration and protection of important bird and biodiversity areas (IBA) in Fiji, Rapa (French Polynesia), and Suwarrow, as well as clan boundary mapping in Papua New Guinea. 

Near the end of the workshop, participants prepared lesson plans for training others in some of the course content, and Teuru is excited to bring the skills she has gained back to assist with her work as the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) coordinator, as well as with her colleagues at Cook Islands Red Cross, Te Ipukarea Society, and hopefully many others.

While the workshop started with 26 strangers, Tiraa-Passfield said she left her new friends with a sense of belonging to a wider network of caring, passionate people, driven to effect change for the benefit of our planet.

She felt very fortunate to be spending time with such inspiring young conservationists from around the world. She is so proud of the work that all these young leaders are doing, and has been inspired by each and every participant, facilitator, and CLP staff member, to step up and do more.

Teuru thanks CLP, Te Ipukarea Society, and Birdlife International for the opportunity to undertake this training, which she described as “awesome”. 

She would also like to thank the Cook Island Red Cross Society for seeing the value of the training for her work as the Cook Islands GEF SGP coordinator and allowing her to attend. Teuru is especially grateful to the trainers - Stu, Charlotte, Laura, and Christina and all their support, mentorship, and investment into the development of each participant and their projects.


This weekly column is provided by Te Ipukarea Society. It deals with conservation and environmental matters of interest to the Cook Islands. 

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