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Te Ipukarea Society: Nature is there to be protected for human benefits

Saturday 29 June 2024 | Written by Te Ipukarea Society | Published in Environment, National


Te Ipukarea Society: Nature is there to be protected for human benefits
Pacific delegates were invited to Kuruwitu on the coast of Kenya to learn more about a Co Management Plan concept. TIS/24062802

The International Union of Conservation on Nature (IUCN) recently hosted an Africa, Pacific Learning Exchange Programme on Protected and Conserved Areas in Malindi, Kenya.

Twenty representatives from the Pacific from both non-government organisations and the government sector were invited to the programme including representation from Te Ipukarea Society and friends from Nature Fiji, Samoa Conservation Society, Tonga National Youth Congress, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati and Vanuatu. Representation from Africa included colleagues from the Eastern and Southern African states such as Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Madagascar.

The programme included a number of field visits starting with Mida Creek, a protected area in Watamu Kenya, where 22 organisations together share resources and finances. This supports guided eco-tours that generate sustainable financing, Mangrove Restoration Projects as well as supporting alternative livelihood options for the community. By providing alternative livelihood options such as beekeeping, this would relieve some of the harvesting pressures by the people within the Mangrove Reserve.

For example, the Reserve holds food and mangrove wood that would otherwise be used for fire to cook food. It was interesting also to see on the outskirts of the mangrove reserve women spread in pockets around the edge simply waiting to scare off any baboons waiting to come from the mangrove reserve into the community’s prized corn fields. Such a biodiverse-rich area!

Mida Creek Reserve is special in that it has been able to successfully market itself, attracting 80,000 visitors a year who come to the Reserve to see the community-led Mangrove Restoration site. This is a good example of how efforts to protect natural resources can create eco jobs for the people, building back happier communities and a better environment.

Another site visited was the Arabuko Sukoko Forest Reserve which is one of the last dry forest ecosystems remaining in Africa and covers three countries, Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania. The forest reserve is an area that holds endemic birds and plants and mammals including the reserve’s mascot the Golden rumped elephant shrew, a small African mammal. The reserve is jointly managed by both Government and NGO organisations with the Kenya Wildlife Service playing a crucial role in protecting both wildlife and forest wood from being harvested by people. The representatives from Fiji were impressed with the official uniforms given to the Wildlife Surveillance and Protection Unit Team. These officers further explained they undergo similar training to the military as they could potentially come into conflict with poachers who have weapons.

Pacific delegates attended a five-day learning exchange programme in Malindi, Kenya on protected areas. TIS/24062801

Along the Kenyan Coast of Kuruwitu, the Pacific was introduced to a Co Management Plan concept where decision making is shared amongst the community, government authorities and civil societies. Kuruwitu coast in particular is a popular tourist site and provides spawning grounds for fish, shellfish and corals. Most of the community here depend on fishing as a source of livelihood. It was explained that the Co Management Plan for Kuruwitu has resulted in better managed marine resources with the desire to better conserve marine resources originally coming from the community. This has resulted in enhanced user compliance with fishing regulations resulting in sustainable management of resources.

The women of Kuruwitu were interested to hear from the Pacific on opportunities around rubbish since they have a lot of it either washed up or present within their community. Te Ipukarea Society was able to share innovative examples from Circle Cook Islands who turn trash into fashion by creating wallets and bags from packaging waste or jewellery such as earrings crafted from plastic or aluminum cans.

Overall, participants from both the Pacific and Africa learned there are similarities in challenges and solutions faced in protected or conserved areas. For example, the need for sustainable financing was commonly raised and initiatives such as exploring private public partnerships, carbon credits which are currently being trialled in Samoa and Ocean Conservation Credits which Niue has started.

Exploring Africa’s successes in co management plans which are integrated into legislation was also recognised as beneficial. They are a way of achieving ownership, compliance and the sharing of resources and expertise amongst the community, NGOs and government departments.

Te Ipukarea Society is grateful to IUCN for the opportunity to be a part of the learning exchange dialogue, reminding us that nature is not there to be exploited for human benefits, rather nature is there to be protected for human benefits.

Asante Sana Kenya.