Our Island, Our Future: Protecting Terrestrial Biodiversity in Pohnpei State, Micronesia
The commercial cultivation of kava in the upland rainforests of Pohnpei, Micronesia is destroying irreplaceable habitat and threatening the water supply for the island’s 37,000 inhabitants, as well as scores of unique endemic species.
The main cause of the devastation is that farmers are attempting to produce kava in unsuitable soils, and are removing trees in order to plant the crop, causing erosion and soil loss.
In response to this, the ‘Grow Low’ campaign was developed in 2001 to raise awareness of the dangers of deforestation in the mountains. The campaign aims to transfer the agricultural skills required for high-yield, sustainable kava propagation in the lowlands to all farmers, and to demarcate the watershed boundaries of upland areas as areas off-limits to agriculture. The effort is coupled with an educational program that explains why it important to conserve watershed. As a result, 42% of upland farmers have moved their cultivation to lower slopes since the project began, and a dramatic decrease in forest clearings, from a total of 1,741 recorded in 2001 to only 13 new clearings in 2005, has been seen.
Patterson Shed leads a team in completing the delineation of the Watershed Forest Reserve, working with the relevant municipalities and local people to build consenses over land rights and ownership. Forest inventories and hydrological studies on surface water and sedimentation are being completed in the proposed reserve to inform where the boundary should lie.
A key aim is to continue working with local farmers using the Grow Low campaign’s sustainable agro-forestry practices within the traditional lowland agricultural areas, and assist the Pohnpei State Volunteer Forest Rangers in educating communities
‘GROW LOW CAMPAIGN’ ATTRACTS GEF FUNDING
We are delighted to announce that shortly after recieving an Associate Award from WFN, the Conservation Society of Pohnpei and ‘Grow Low Campaign’ successfully achieved matched funding from the UNDP-World Bank Global Environmental Fund-Small Grant program!