New Projects Approved By Seacology Board
The following projects were approved by Seacology’s Board of Directors at their January 27, 2012 meeting:
Bahamas – Signage and cabanas for two national parks, Abaco.The Abaco Islands, in the northern Bahamas, boast six national parks. The Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park (PCLSP) is a 2,100-acre land and “no-take” sea park. It is highly used for recreation by local residents and dive operations. The park contains beautiful undersea caves and patch reefs that are perfect for snorkeling. Fowl Cays National Park is a 1,920-acre reserve that is conveniently reached from most central Abacos cays and settlements. The reefs and three 25' to 40' dive spots in untouched water are renowned. This park is particularly attractive to scuba divers, and is also an extremely popular area for local boating and snorkeling. Fowl Cays National Park also has great value as a “spillover” area, whereby surrounding habitat is enriched because of the park’s protection. In addition to fish, rays and sponges, both parks are also home to endangered staghorn and elkhorn coral, along with 12 other coral species. The Bahamas National Trust is the only nonprofit organization in the world charged with managing a country’s entire national park system. Seacology is funding signage and a small cabana for educational information and use as a rest spot at each park. These will aid in interpretation and protection of the parks as well as a more enhanced experience for park visitors.
Belize – Reinforcement and stabilization of the Seacology-funded Port Honduras Marine Reserve Ranger Station, Abalone Caye.The Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR), established in January 2000, is comprised of 102,400 acres of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, including a robust belt of mangroves, coral reefs, reef banks and sandy shoals that are home to a high biodiversity. The PHMR is home to the endangered Antillean manatee, (Trichechus manatus manatus), loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), and the hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), as well as other important and rare species. The reserve was created by the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment and the Belize Fisheries Department to decrease fishing pressure in the area and build the long-term sustainability of marine resources in the southern Toledo region. Abalone Caye is a one-half acre island located within an important area of the reserve that is the most biologically sensitive as well as most vulnerable to illegal activities. Seacology funded initial construction of the PHMR Ranger Station on Abalone Caye in 2001. Abalone Caye has recently suffered severe coastal erosion, which threatens the existence of the PHMR Ranger Station as well as the safety of the rangers. Seacology is providing support to TIDE to reinforce and stabilize the ranger station, which is strategically critical to protecting the 102,400-acrea PHMR.
Federated States of Micronesia – Community house for the residents of Pakin Atoll, Sokehs municipality, Pohnpei in exchange for a new 50-hectare (124-acre) marine protected area, as a no-take zone, in perpetuity.Located 20 miles northwest of the main island of Pohnpei, Pakin Atoll represents one of the most pristine biodiversity hotspots in the state, with 154 species of fish and 99 species of corals. Pakin is also a refuge for endangered or threatened macrofauna such as sharks and turtles. With a population of just 80 residents, who rely primarily on subsistence fishing for their livelihood, the protection of Pakin’s reefs is of paramount importance. The people of Pakin have agreed to set aside the 50-hectare (124-acre) Woaulap Marine Protected Area (MPA) in perpetuity. Seacology is providing funding for a community house in exchange for the establishment of the new MPA. The building will serve multiple purposes: housing visitors; hosting community meetings and children’s activities; and providing a site of some of the community’s other development projects, such as a solar-powered icemaker and dispensary. The Woaulap MPA sits within plain sight of the proposed location of the community house, also making it an ideal location as a ranger station. *
Fiji – Construction of a kindergarten in exchange for the planting and protection of a 4,000-acre forest area for a minimum duration of 20 years, Qumusea District, Vanua Levu Island.The Qumusea District is located on the north shore of Vanua Levu Island. The Great Sea Reef, the world’s third-largest barrier reef, is offshore. Four villages and four settlements in the district send their children to the Qumusea District School. The area surrounding the school and communities is about 70 percent deforested due to bush fires. The fires occur yearly, and are now taking a toll on the environment of both land and sea due to erosion and sedimentation which is adversely affecting the reef and surrounding waters. Local leaders wish to educate the community about the dangers of and damage caused by brush fires, and actively involve residents in planting trees and becoming stewards of the forest for the benefit of future generations. In collaboration with the Forestry Department and with funding from the Nukubati Island Resort, a nursery will be set up at the Qumusea District School. Indigenous species to be planted include sandalwood (Vanua Levu was formerly known as “Sandalwood Island” until the species was decimated). The area to be protected and replanted totals 4,000 acres, with a target of 50,000 trees planted over a period of 20 years. Community members will be responsible for the trees that they plant, and will pledge to not burn or otherwise degrade the newly-forested area. In exchange for this reforestation and protection program, Seacology is funding the construction of a new kindergarten at the Qumusea School site.
India – Wildlife rescue and natural history resource center in exchange for the planting and protection of 300 hectares (741 acres) of mangrove forest for a duration of 10 years, Bali Island, Sundarbans.The Sundarbans is a delta at the confluence of the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers in the Bay of Bengal in India and Bangladesh. It is the world’s largest mangrove forest area and is also the land of the endangered Royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris). The Indian Sundarbans covers an area of 9,630 square kilometers (3,718 square miles). The tide comes twice daily, deepening old channels and cutting new ones; as a result of the forever-shifting soils, maps of the Sundarbans are never completely accurate. Bali Island (not to be confused with Bali, Indonesia) is located in the southern Sundarbans, and has a total population of 33,000. Though the Sundarbans is a National Park, Tiger Reserve, UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and World Heritage Site, due to its remoteness and lack of infrastructure it is practically impossible to rescue and rehabilitate injured or aging wildlife reported throughout the islands. With cooperation from local organizations Help Tourism, Association for Conservation and Tourism, and the Bali Nature & Wildlife Conservation Society, Seacology is funding the construction of a wildlife rescue center and natural history museum/visitor center on Bali Island. In exchange, the community will conduct mangrove planting totaling 300 acres (741 acres), monitor illegal hunting, carry out education and awareness programs, and rescue and rehabilitate injured wildlife.
Madagascar – Construction of a footbridge and three primary school classrooms with furnishings and a restroom block in exchange for support of a new 1,950 hectare (4,819 acre) rainforest reserve for a duration of 30 years, Antsahaberaoka Village, Marojejy National Park.Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, has been recognized as one of the world’s top five biodiversity hotspots. Unfortunately, more than 90% of Madagascar's original forest cover has been lost since the time of human arrival, only 2,300 years ago. In the northeast, Marojejy National Park and Masoala National Park, two of the 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world categorized as “In Danger,” have been hard-hit by illegal logging of rosewood and ebony trees. Marojejy National Park has over 550 square kilometers of mountainous primary rainforest, and is home to 11 species of lemurs, including the critically endangered silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus). Less than 2,000 silky sifaka lemurs remain in the wild; none have ever survived in captivity. Most of the remaining population of this species is found in Marojejy National Park. One of the largest concentrations of silky sifakas is found near the north-western boundary of the reserve near the remote rural community of Antsahaberaoka. This community is pressed in against the boundary of the national park and struggles to find arable land to farm, sometimes farming inside the reserve. The people of Antsahaberaoka report that poor schools are their biggest problem, and would like a new primary school to replace their deteriorating, parasite-ridden small bamboo and wood school rooms. They would also like a 40-meter footbridge since many children (and adults) are simply unable to cross a large river to attend school or access other parts of the village during the rainy season. Seacology is providing funding for a new school and footbridge in exchange for an agreement to stop all habitat disturbance for 30 years within 1,950 hectares (4,819 acres) of Marojejy National Park that lie adjacent to their village. *
Panama – Alternative cooking technology for Ngobe Bugle fisher families, and signage and mooring buoys for the protection of species including pygmy sloths, Escudo de Veraguas Island.Escudo de Veraguas, a 1.3 square mile island located off the Caribbean Coast of Panama´s Bocas del Toro region, is home to several endemic species, including the critically-endangered pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pigmaeus) and neotropical fruit bat (Artibeus incomitatus). The island is ringed by 618 acres of mangrove forest – the only known habitat of the pygmy sloth – and 247 acres of coral reef with 55 coral species. Escudo de Veraguas is traditionally considered the birthplace of the Gnobe Bugle people, but until 15 years ago it remained largely unpopulated. However, this all has changed as Gnobe Bugle fishermen from nearby coastal towns moving in, first using the island as a departure point for fishing parties and later turning it into a permanent settlement. Now a permanent population of 120 fishermen and their families use the island as a base for their fishing for their own consumption as well as selling to local markets and resorts. Local dwellers depend on cutting mangrove trees to make charcoal for cooking; the forest, habitat for the pygmy sloths, has been reduced by 25 percent. To help reduce cutting of mangroves for charcoal, as well as provide a healthier alternative to women who are exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide by cooking with charcoal indoors, Seacology is providing two environmentally-sound cooking alternatives, the “Hotpot” solar energy-based ovens and the “Vesto” stove, to each household to reduce dependence on charcoal and, hence, the cutting of red mangrove. Seacology is also providing signage and mooring buoys to mark access areas and allow anchoring that does not harm fragile coral reef.
Samoa – Refurbishment of an existing resource center for Safata District and construction of a new resource center for Aleipata District in exchange for support of existing 1,280-acre “no-take” marine areas in perpetuity, Upolo Island.Aleipata, comprised of 11 villages, and Safata, comprised of nine villages, are two districts located on the east and south sides, respectively, of Samoa’s main island of Upolu. The districts each have 640-acre no-take marine zones. Safata’s mangrove forest and a restricted-use marine protected area (MPA) comprised of the entire district’s inshore waters, combined with their no-take area, make a total protected zone of 24.6 square miles. In Aleipata, the MPA, no-take, and mangrove protected areas total just under 20 square miles. In both districts, the no-take zones are to be protected in perpetuity. These total protected areas are the largest in Samoa. In September 2009 the two districts were amongst the worst hit areas from the tsunami that struck Samoa. Seacology provided funding for several of the villages in the districts, supplying water tanks for villagers as they relocated inland, and financed part of the cleanup work in the marine and mangrove areas. The long-term goal of the MPA has always been to establish itself as an independent entity, but lack of funding and resources have delayed the process. Seacology is providing funding to rebuild and move to higher ground a MPA resource center for the Aleipata District that was damaged by the tsunami, as well as renovate the tsunami-damaged Safata District’s existing resource center.
Tonga – Refurbishment of an existing community hall and its facilities; and new bathroom, water tank, gutters and furnishings in exchange for support of 215 hectares (531 acres) of Fish Habitat Reserves for a minimum of 10 years, Ovaka Village, Vava’u Group.Like many island and coastal communities in Tonga, the small community of Ovaka is facing the fast depletion of its inshore fisheries resources, loss of fish habitat, and land erosion. The main causes include overexploitation of reef fish, use of destructive and efficient fishing methods, land-based environmental disturbances caused by human activities, and natural disturbances due to climate changes. The Ovaka Special Managed Area (SMA), with a total area of 1,140 hectares (2,817 acres, including Ovaka Island and Avalau Island) was one of the first six SMAs that the Government of Tonga declared in 2008. Similarly to other SMAs, the Ovaka SMA already has an Action Plan that been developed with the assistance of the Ministry of Fisheries. However, there is little understanding of how effectively the SMA has been managed since its formal declaration. Increased community involvement in monitoring is crucial as part of effective management of the Fish Habitat Reserves (FHR) within the SMA. The Ovaka village hall, which is used by adults and children alike for meetings, activities, and as an accommodation for visitors to the island, is badly in need of an upgrade. In exchange for Seacology’s assistance in upgrading the hall, the community will actively manage their 215 hectare (531-acre) Fish Habitat Reserves for a minimum duration of 10 years. This project is very similar to that in Felemea, Tonga, which was visited by a Seacology expedition in 2011.
*Support for asterisked projects is provided fully or in part by the Nu Skin Enterprises Force for Good Foundation.