Biodiversity & Ecosystem Management Headlines

Regional Invasive Species Schools Challenge Winners announced!

The creativity of Pacific island school children have 'wowed' the judges of the Pacific Invasives Regional Schools Challenge which was launched by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

Lefaga College of Samoa was awarded First Place winning USD 800, Maris Stellar School in Koror, Palau took out Second Place of USD 500 and Tivan High School in Guam won Third Place at USD 300.

Consolation prizes of USD 200 each were awarded to Vaitele Uta Primary School of Samoa and Houma Primary School in the Vava'u Islands of Tonga.

"The entries before the judges for reviewing was amazing," said Mr David Moverley, the Invasive Species Adviser of SPREP.

"The calibre of submissions was extremely high, creative and also showed that much was learnt about invasive species in this competition. We congratulate all the entrants as judging was difficult given their level of excellence."

The SPREP Invasive Species Regional Schools Challenge was held over the duration of 2016. SPREP members were provided with invasive species toolkits to coordinate the competition nationally with schools. Along with a range of information about invasive species, the toolkits also included a list of 'challenges' for classrooms to select from and complete, these were then entered for judgment at the national level for which the top three entries were submitted for the regional schools challenge competition.

Hundreds of entries from across the region were submitted for both the national and the regional schools competition, highlighting the value of our Pacific island schoolchildren and the key role they play in conserving our environment.

"We must assist children and the younger generation as best we can to learn about invasive species and what they can do with their community to reduce the impacts of invasive species. The school challenge toolkit is SPREP's first attempt to try this with country partners on such a broad geographical scale," said Mr Moverley.

"It is very rewarding to see the entries which have come in from younger Primary school aged kids to young adults at College. It shows that they do care about their environment and invasive species. We must foster this interest and transform it into a change in behaviour as ultimately invasive species are everyone's responsibility."

Congratulations to all those who entered the SPREP Invasive Species Schools Challenge!

Please scroll below to see the winning entries:

1st Place Pacific Invasive Species Regional Schools Challenge
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Identifying the species and its impacts is the first step of invasive species management.
This is not only important to determine what management can and needs to take place but it is also
vital for communicating the issue to gather support. This picture from Lefaga College in Samoa
achieves that at the local scale and therefore should be a very useful communication tool to
educate the community about the impacts of the giant African snail.

2nd Place Pacific Invasive Species Regional Schools Challenge
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 Success with managing invasive species requires a vision for the whole community to work towards.
The bumper sticker "This could be real" from Maris Stella School in Koror (Palau) captures a vision, a dream if you like, towards a better future and identifies how the community can achieve it.

3rd Place Pacific Invasive Species Regional Schools Challenge
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The impacts of the brown tree snake in Guam on biodiversity, human health and infrastructure
are well known. With 10/13 native bird species, 9/12 lizard species and at least 2 mammal species extinct in the wild, US$25,000 – 48,000 / annum is spent on medical treatment from snake bites
and  US$M1 – 4/annum is spent on snake related power outages. Everyone knows how bad they are.
This bumper sticker from Tiyan High School in Guam promotes prioritising the
eradication of the brown tree snake.

Consolation Prize Pacific Invasive Species Regional Schools Challenge
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The poster "Where are you from giant African snail" from Vaitele Uta Primary School in Samoa is a great example of invasive species investigation. These young students have equipped themselves with knowledge which they can share with their friends and families.

Consolation Prize - Pacific Invasives Species Regional Schools Challenge
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Education and awareness of invasive species is critical if they are to be managed at the community level. This simple but memorable challenge has introduced these young 8-9 year old students, from Houma Primary School in the Vava'u Islands of Tonga, to the concept of invasive species in a simple but fun way.
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