- Published on 15 May 2013
- by David Sheppard - Director General (SPREP),
Climate change is likely to make this situation worse. Our scientists predict that convergence zones—the zones where flows of weather meet and interact—will shift northwards, resulting in less rainfall and more unpredictable rainfall patterns throughout much of the Pacific. It is thus essential that we in the Pacific better value, better manage and better conserve our wetlands and water resources. Management of biodiversity affects the supply and quality of water resources. For example, removal of forests from steep slopes will cause land to degrade as there will not be enough forest cover to protect the land from erosion, which in turn can cause multiple poor water quality and limited water supply for human consumption. We need to better understand the relationship between water and biodiversity, in particular the role biodiversity plays in the overall water cycle process. This will better inform policy, planning and decision-making processes regarding the management of water resources. What does this mean for our region?
Pacific Islands environments are fragile and vulnerable to a variety of natural and human-made threats and our leaders have noted that climate change poses the major challenge. Our biodiversity and water resources are highly susceptible to these threats, as well as to contamination from pollution. A number of activities led by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) addresses water and biodiversity issues in the Pacific. SPREP works closely with the Ramsar Convention to identify and manage important wetlands in the Pacific. There are many outstanding Ramsar sites in our region, including Lake Lanoto’o National Park in Samoa, Upper Navua Conservation Area in Fiji and Lake Ngardok in Palau. Pacific Ramsar sites protect important watershed areas for our towns and cities and demonstrate the values and importance of water and wetland areas for our survival. The Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) project, a joint initiative between SPREP and UNDP, is assisting countries with the installation of water tanks in Tuvalu and Niue to cope with water issues caused by drought. SPREP also promotes ecosystem-based approaches to ensure a holistic approach to the sustainable use and management of water and biodiversity, taking into account other critical factors and threats such as those posed by extreme events and climate change. Earlier this year, on February 2, World Wetlands Day was commemorated throughout the world and in our region. The theme for this day was ‘Wetlands take care of Water’, highlighting the important role of wetland ecosystems in controlling and mitigating flooding and the storage and provision of water for the needs of our societies.
Article published in Island Business May 2013