July 2010 Archives

It is with great sadness that the Seacology staff announces the passing of Chief Charles L. Chieng, executive director of Yap Community Action Project (Yap CAP) and coordinator of four Seacology projects on the Micronesian Island of Yap. "King Charles" worked within the chiefly system and at the grassroots level to encourage communities on this very culturally intact island to preserve their natural resources. His tireless commitment to conservation resulted in the establishment of a forest reserve, three mangrove reserves and multiple marine protected areas on and around both Yap proper, and the outer islands. Chief Chieng involved community members in all facets of conservation activities and successfully sought funding to allow them to be trained in planning, monitoring and enforcement activities. He also was an integral part of several Micronesia-wide conservation initiatives, and was influential in the establishment of strong environmental statutes for Yap, providing a model throughout the region and beyond.

Chief Chieng was a true island conservation hero whose leadership, humor and wisdom will be greatly missed.

For more information, contact Seacology Program Manager Karen Peterson (karen@seacology.org).


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Seacology Island Expeditions

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If our new island projects made you wistful for an island adventure of your own, why not consider joining Seacology on one of our upcoming trips? Seacology trips visit some of the world's most pristine and remote islands, combining rugged adventure with luxury travel for the experience of a lifetime! Our trips include stops at Seacology sites, where we meet island villagers and tour the projects and reserved we've helped fund. Read on for more information on our upcoming trips, and we hope you can join us!

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New Seacology Projects!

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Seacology recently approved 12 new island projects, protecting mangroves, reefs, and forests on islands from the Caribbean to Micronesia. Read on for our new project summaries: 

ANTIGUA - Waste recycling baler and bins. Antigua and Barbuda is a politically stable nation in the West Indies. The Antigua & Barbuda Waste Recycling Corporation (ABWREC) is a not-for-profit corporation and a project of the Rotary Club of Antigua Sundown in partnership with the government through the National Solid Waste Management Authority. Littering, overflowing landfills and the burning of garbage (including plastics) are serious problems faced by Antigua and all islands throughout the world.  ABWREC provides the following services at no cost to the public: collection of recyclable materials; initial processing and exportation of recyclables; education and public awareness about recycling, waste reduction and management; tours and demonstrations of the recycling facility (approx. 3,000 students per year); and distribution of recycling bins and short term loan of recycling bins for special events. In addition to providing the only waste recycling service in the Eastern Caribbean, ABWREC also provides a unique social service in the community. Five of the company's seven staff are recruited though local drug rehabilitation centres, offering them the chance to re-enter the workforce. To assist ABWREC with the growing demand for its services, Seacology is providing funding for the purchase of a waste recycling baler and 36 100-gallon recycling bins for distribution to schools and commercial centres.  

 

Federated States of Micronesia - Community hall, water tanks and toilets in exchange for the protection of a 15-acre pristine upland forest as a no-take area in perpetuity, Onongoch, Fefen Island, Chuuk.   Marked as a top conservation target for the island state of Chuuk for its health and significance, and known as a sacred area for generations, the Chunuf forest area is part of the West Fefen Area of Biodiversity Significance.   The forest is home to several endangered and threatened bird, plant and tree species.  A number of mounting threats to the health of the area are of concern to the Onongoch community, including the cutting of indigenous trees by people from other islands and villages. With a population of over 400 the Onongoch community on Fefen Island has, due to traditional practices and certain chiefly taboos, conserved and worked around the forest for many years, and want it to be officially recognized as a conservation area.  The Chuuk Conservation Society is providing assistance in the creation of a management plan for the new forest reserve.  Seacology is funding the construction of a meeting hall with office space, as well as 10 500-gallon water tanks and 10 toilets for the neediest members of the community, in exchange for an agreement to protect 15 acres of pristine upland forest as a no-take area in perpetuity.

 

GRENADA - Acquisition, construction and installation of interpretive materials to promote protection and conservation of Leatherback turtles, Bathway Beach, Northern St. Patrick's Parish.   Grenada has one of the largest nesting populations of critically endangered Leatherback turtles in the Caribbean, which nest on Levera and Bathway beaches, located within 450-acre Levera National Park along the island's northern coastline.  Literally thousands of people visit the nesting beaches every year in an effort to see the turtles, which has resulted in some unwelcome practices on the beaches, such as littering, noise pollution which disturbs both emerging and already-nesting animals (often resulting in abandoned nesting efforts and/or premature return to the water), and physical interference with the animals.  In response to requests for help, the Fisheries Division has passed new legislation to help protect the habitat and nesting turtles, and has also allocated space in the Levera National Park Office, located at Bathway Beach, for an interpretation and staging area for tours and visitors to the park. Seacology is providing funds to Ocean Spirits, a local NGO, for the purchase, construction and installation of a variety of interpretive display materials to be housed at the turtle interpretation center within the park office building. These materials include interpretation display props; shelving, counters and display cases; office furniture; and electronic display equipment. This center will relieve some of the pressures on the beaches, especially during the nesting season.

 

INDONESIA - Community building in support of 1,977 acres of no-take rainforest  in Banjar Anyar, Desa Sangkitan, Bali.  Banjar Anyar is a small farming village positioned 2,200 feet above sea level on the slopes of Mount Batukaru. The majority of the 380 residents grow small plots of coffee, cacao, fruit and rice. Their village is adjacent to Sarinbuana Village, where Seacology funded a library, music and dance building, instruments and equipment in 2006 in exchange for village endorsement of a 1,975-acre permanent no-take rainforest reserve.  The forest of Mount Batukaru is home to a variety of birds, the increasingly rare pangolin and leaf-eating monkey. Traditionally, the people of Banjar Anyar have been the de facto custodians of an approximate 1,977-acre portion of this rainforest above their village.  Seacology is providing Banjar Anyar with funds to construct a village community building where meetings, Balinese dance and music practices, and youth activities can take place, in support of their commitment to protect 1,977 acres of rainforest in perpetuity.

Indonesia - Village health clinic in exchange for the creation of 74 acres of no-take coral reef and in support of an additional 27 acres of no-take coral reef, Kahuku Village, Bangka Island, North Sulawesi.  Desa Kahuku is a village located on the island of Bankga, about six miles offshore the North Sulawesi mainland and about 24 miles northeast from the nearest large town of Manado. About 75 percent of the 1,012 inhabitants are involved in small-scale fishing and about 25 percent are engaged in subsistence farming.  The village had a health clinic built for them in 1994, which is in a crumbling state as salty beach sand was used in the concrete mixture. As a result, the metal re-bar has rusted into flakes and the brickwork is soft and sodden, causing the building to be structurally unsafe. Also, the building has no beds or medical equipment, and receives very little support from the local health department save for a health care worker who is stationed in the village.  The villagers wish to set aside and protect approximately one mile of fringing coral reef, totaling approximately 74 acres as a no-take zone for 10 years. The reef has had considerable pressure put upon it from destructive fishing practices over the past decades, especially from outside villages using cyanide to catch lobster and reef fish. Seacology is providing funding to Kahuku Village for the reconstruction of their health clinic (with clean sand), as well as beds and medical equipment, in exchange for the village's creation of a 74-acre no-take coral reef and in support of an additional 27 acres of no-take coral reef.  *

Madagascar - Construction of two primary school classrooms with furnishings and a restroom block in support of an agreement to stop all new shifting cultivation within 988 acres of biologically diverse low-elevation humid forest for a duration of 15 years, Antanandava Village.  Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, has been recognized as one of the world's top eight mega-biodiversity countries and one of the top five threatened biodiversity hotspots.  Since the nation's political crisis peaked in March 2009, local communities have struggled more than ever as poverty, joblessness and crime have increased, while access to basic social services has become even more difficult.  The Makirovana-Tsihomanaomby forest complex in northeastern Madagascar consists of 20 square miles of low-elevation, fragmented, humid forest. It has been identified as a national priority area for plant conservation by the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG), and is already in the process of being formally recognized by the government as a new protected area. Numerous locally endemic and threatened plant species are found there, and animal diversity is robust as well with 60 species of reptile and amphibian, 75 bird species (including the endangered Madagascar red owl) and six species of lemur (including the endangered Sanford's brown lemur). The forest is threatened by bushmeat hunting, selective rosewood logging, and especially by slash-and-burn agriculture. Shifting cultivation by the slash-and-burn method ("tavy") is the traditional and predominant land use practice in eastern Madagascar where remaining forests are found. It is the primary cause of deforestation and upland forest degradation, and has heavily contributed to the loss of approximately 90 percent of Madagascar's original forest cover.  Since 2008, the MBG has been working with the people of Antanandava, a community of 1,092 to the south of the forest, to reduce these threats and conserve the area. Seacology is funding a new primary school to replace their deteriorating and small bamboo and wood school rooms in support of an agreement to stop all new shifting cultivation within the 988 acres of the Makirovana-Tsihomanaomby forest complex.

 

Panama - Waste management system for Carti Island communities, Kuna Yala Archipelago.  Kuna Yala is an autonomous territory or comarca in Panama, inhabited by the Kuna indigenous people. Kuna Yala is 924 square miles and has a population of 36,487 people (2004). About 36 of the comarca's 365 islands are inhabited by Kuna communities, with an additional 13 communities located on the mainland coast. Kuna Yala also houses a biosphere reserve, the Narganá Protected Area, which covers 386 square miles. Kuna Yala´s beaches are one of the least impacted and best protected nesting grounds for the critically-endangered Leatherback sea turtle. Carti, a group of island communities totaling about 1,000 residents located in the western side of the Kuna Yala Indigenous Territory, is just three hours from Panama City via a four wheel drive vehicle. Relatively easy access to Carti and the incredible beauty of its white sand beaches are the main reasons that tourism has significantly increased in Carti.  Tourism has brought a problem: a major increase in garbage. Currently there is no disposal system for this increasing problem, other than to leave the trash in improvised landfills.  Seacology is provided equipment for a comprehensive waste management and recycling system for the five island communities where the Kuna have installed homestay facilities.  In exchange for the equipment, the Kuna Indigenous Congress along with the Carti community leadership will draft waste management regulations for the immediate vicinity of Carti, comprising more than 7,413 acres of marine, island and coastal habitat. It is expected that the improvised landfills and the pollution they bring will begin to disappear, helping secure the long-term survival of this mostly pristine natural environment and turning tourism into a more sustainable and less polluting economic activity.

Papua New Guinea - Community health clinic in exchange for the establishment of a 988-acre no-take coastal marine conservation area within an existing Wildlife Management Area, Tavolo, Pomio District, East New Britain Province.  Tavolo is situated west in the Pomio District of East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea. The area has extensive fringing coral reefs on the coast and a pristine forest on the mainland. Approximately 500 people live around the Tavolo area in small hamlets. Tavolo provides an abundant area for flora and fauna habitat that remain undisturbed. The primary threats to these two ecosystems are from large-scale logging and over-fishing by an increasing population.  In 1997, an eight square mile Wildlife Management Area was gazetted under PNG's Flora and Fauna Act. The community is working towards establishing an extension of the conservation area, to cover a total of 124 square miles. Local NGO Melkoi Local Environment Foundation wishes to develop and strengthen the locally-based conservation of the entire area.  Within this very large area, the community would like to set up a 998-acre no-take reef and lagoon conservation area. Regardless of the continuous pressure and threats to their natural resources, the community of Tavolo, with the assistance of another local NGO, Mama Graun Conservation Trust, is committed to protecting their environment and will continue to refuse large-scale development proposals.  Tavolo is situated about a day's walk to the nearest government station for medical assistance, and is separated by a few rivers, making it too difficult for the community to reach.  Seacology is providing funding to build a community health clinic in exchange for the community's establishment of a 988-acre no-take coastal marine conservation area.

PHILIPPINES - Micro-hydro power generator and fruit tree nursery in support of the protection of 6,178 acres of watershed forest within the 18,150-acre ancestral claim of the T'boli and Manobo tribes, Sitio Lobo, Barangay Ned, Municipality of Lake Sebu, Mindanao Island.  Lake Sebu is within the southern Tiruray Highlands of Mindanao Island at an altitude of almost 1,000 feet, and is under the protection of the National Integrated Protected Area System Act (NIPAS Act), which was passed in 1992. It is surrounded by rolling hills and forested mountains, and is home to the T'boli, a highland tribe known for their colorful costumes, intricate beadwork, woven work and brass ornaments. The Manobos, who also live in the region, inhabit the river valleys, hillsides, plateaus and interiors. The lake and the surrounding rainforest are a natural habitat to Philippine cockatoos, egrets, swallows, kingfishers, herons, kites and migratory birds, as well as wild boar and Philippine deer. The community of Sitio Lobo has a total area of 18,150 acres; within this area is a watershed of 6,178 acres.  While the watershed is already protected by the NIPAS Act, the tribes have committed to work with Barangay Ned for the issuance of an ordinance declaring the watershed as a no-take zone. The community also plans to organize a forest guarding program and undertake reforestation activities.  Sitio Lobo does not have electricity; Seacology is providing funding for a 30-kilowatt micro-hydro power station in support of their efforts to protect their watershed for a minimum of 30 years. Technical assistance will be provided by partner NGO YAMOG, who also coordinated the Seacology-funded project to provide a micro-hydro system and fruit tree nursery to the Mindanao community of Old Bulatukan in support of the protection of 744 acres of watershed. 

 

Tonga - Refurbishment of an existing community hall and its facilities in support of the protection of two Fish Habitat Reserves totaling 368 acres for a duration of 10 years, Felemea Village, 'Uiha Island, Ha'apai Islands.  Felemea Village is one of two villages on 'Uiha Island in the Ha'apai island group.  In January 1995, the entire Ha'apai group was declared as a Conservation Area in principle by the Tongan government under the South Pacific Biodiversity Conservation Program. The project helped to raise awareness about the issues of marine resource depletion and the option of community-based management of inshore fisheries. The marine area near Felemea used to be abundant in marine resources such as clams, sea slugs, seaweeds, crab, lobster and a variety of reef fish. Most of these resources are of high commercial value and have been threatened due to overfishing. The community has indicated a willingness to more aggressively protect its marine resources.  Like all community halls, Felemea's is the main venue for village events such as meetings, training workshops, women's meetings and weaving, youth activities, pre-school, etc. Seacology is funding the refurbishment of the hall, including a new floor with tiling, doors, window frames and louvers, electrical repairs, repainting, installing of a plastic water tank and guttering, and the provision of tables and chairs for meetings. In return for Seacology's support, the people of Felemea will actively manage the two Fish Habitat Reserves for minimum duration of 10 years.  *

 

UGANDA - Solar-powered refrigerator for medicines for the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Lake Victoria.  Uganda's Lake Victoria, at 26,600 square miles, is Africa's largest lake, the largest tropical lake in the world and the Earth's second-largest freshwater lake.  The original homes of chimpanzees are the forests of Equatorial Africa; their range formerly extended over 25 countries (of which Uganda is one), but are now extinct in four of those 25, with an estimated fewer than 150,000 remaining in the wild.  Without strenuous efforts to conserve these great apes, populations could decline by as much as 80 percent in the next 30 to 40 years.  The myriad threats to chimpanzees extend beyond habitat loss to poaching for commercial bushmeat and exotic pet trades, infectious diseases and armed conflict. One hundred-acre Ngamba Island has been home to the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary since 1998.  The Sanctuary was established by the Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) to implement a long-term strategy for conservation of chimpanzees through care and welfare of entrusted animals, while conserving the ecosystem of the island.  Locally-run CSWCT is a leader in the conservation of chimpanzees, contributing to public awareness of this flagship IUCN Red-Listed great ape species, and engaging with communities living alongside chimpanzee populations.  Ngamba Island provides an excellent habitat for the chimpanzees and other wildlife species including fruit bats, spiders, fish eagles, hippos, otters, a crocodile and monitor lizards.  The approximately 50 chimpanzee residents are rescued animals that cannot be returned to the wild.  The Sanctuary provides conservation education through ecotourism, with approximately 200 visitors to the island per month.  Seacology is providing the CSWCT with funding to purchase a solar-powered refrigerator to hold medicines for the chimpanzees at the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. 

 

VANUATU - Construction of a community hall with two guest rooms and a water tank in exchange for the establishment of a 163-acre marine reserve and 178-acre mangrove reserve for a duration of 10 years, Isavai Community, Aniwa Island.  Aniwa is a remote, low-lying island located in southern Vanuatu to the west of Tanna Island.  Isavai is one of the more populated of the four villages on the island, with approximately 140 inhabitants. The population of Aniwa very much depends on marine resources for their livelihoods. The increasing population of the Isavai community means people are using more of their natural resources on both land and sea, leading to decreasing fish stocks and upsetting the productivity of marine species that support the community's livelihood. Climate change is another concern in the community. The erosion of shoreline and dying vegetation have brought grave concern to the community.  The community had previously declared a marine protected area of approximately 100 acres for a duration of five years. Now the people of Isavai are willing to preserve a marine area of 163 acres as well as a mangrove habitat covering 178 acres for a duration of 10 years.  In exchange for this commitment, Seacology will fund construction of a community hall with two attached guest rooms and a water tank. The community considers this important infrastructure to be very beneficial to the community of Isavai by enabling it to host village meetings and visitors, women's activities, workshops, etc.   

* Support for asterisked projects is provided fully or in part by the Nu Skin Enterprises Force for Good Foundation.

 

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Summer with Seacology

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Seacology at Young Frankenstein

With summer in full swing, you may be busy navigating vacations and family reunions, or just relaxing by the pool or backyard. If you are in the Bay Area next week, it's not too late to join Seacology at our special Young Frankenstein benefit evening, next Tuesday, July 13. We will attend a performance of Young Frankenstein, a musical based on Mel Brooks' Oscar-nominated motion picture. Following the performance, our guests are invited to an exclusive reception featuring Young Frankenstein cast members. For further details and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.seacology.org/news/display.cfm?id=4226

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Seacology and Trazzler

Have you been on any special summer vacations yet this year? Are you planning any meaningful trips? Do you think traveling can change the world, or make us better people? If any of these questions intrigue you, consider entering Trazzler's Smart Travel contest. Trazzler is an online travel website that provides unique travel recommendations. Trazzler and Seacology are teaming up in the Smart Travel contest to reward travel writing that answers the question - "Can travel make us better people?" Anyone is eligible to enter, and two winners will be selected to join Seacology on an expedition to swim with humpback whales in Tonga! To enter, visit the Smart Travel website here: http://www.trazzler.com/contests/smarttravel

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In the weeks since I first wrote about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the situation seems to have gone from bad to worse. While Seacology has no projects in the Gulf, there are many islands in the region, and many more marine and costal wildlife and ecosystems similar to those Seacology protects in other areas of the world.

The disaster is officially the worst oil spill in US history, spewing 140 million gallons (and counting!) of oil into the Gulf. To get an idea of how massive it really is, visit this site and see how large the spill would be if it was in your neighborhood.

Though BP has tried everything from a top hat to diamond saws to stop the spill, it continues to gush. A containment cap is now collecting some of the oil, and BP hopes to have a permanent cap in place by August, though some believe it may take much longer.

Meanwhile, the Atlantic hurricane season started on a gloomy note, with Hurricane Alex disrupting the cleanup process in the gulf.  The oil is now affecting even Florida's coast, with tar appearing all over its beaches.

What effect is the spill having on wildlife and the gulf's ecosystems? Many species are being affected, from recently endangered pelicans to threatened whale sharks to sea turtles being burned alive, and everything in between. Wetlands make up much of the coastal areas around the gulf. These inherently fragile ecosystems are nurseries for many small fish and other sea life, and could be ruined by the oil. Nearby, another sensitive ecosystem is found in Florida's coral reefs, which may also be harmed by the spill. 

Another environmental concern is the effect the chemical dispersants being used by BP will have on the region's wildlife. Since little is known about the dispersants, it is yet to be seen whether they will do more harm or good to the spill.

As the spill continues to flow, politicians are debating the future of oil drilling, and the nation wonders about the ultimate aftermath of the disaster. Only time will tell. 

Image from Flickr