Since 2010 protected areas covering almost 21 million km2 have been added to the global network, and within the Pacific islands region, approximately 20 percent of the total marine area is currently protected, indicating good progress for marine protection. However, the figure is lower for terrestrial protection, with only about 6 percent of the total land area currently protected. This indicates the need to scale up efforts at increasing the percentage of terrestrial coverage for the region.
Measuring how well these Protected and Conserved Areas are being managed against their agreed goals and objectives is an important undertaking accomplished through the use of Protected Area Management Effectiveness (PAME) evaluation tools.
Protected areas help us conserve nature, maintain ecosystem services and cultural values. By undertaking PAME evaluations and the recommendations of their assessments, we are able to guide adaptive and improved management of our protected areas.
The Global Database on Protected Area Management Effectiveness (GD-PAME) captures information about completed management effectiveness assessments for protected areas and currently documents close to 29,000 evaluations from 177 countries.
Over thirty Pacific islands participants took part in virtual training in April, eager to learn more on how they can assess and improve the effective management of their Protected Areas. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) together with the IUCN Oceania Regional Office and the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) co-organised and delivered the online virtual training workshop on Introduction to the Global Database on Protected Area Management Effectiveness (GD-PAME) and related data flows.
“The assessment of protected area management effectiveness is in the early stages of uptake within the Pacific islands region and while PAME evaluations have been completed for some Pacific countries, the majority have not undertaken these yet.” Said Mr Vainuupo Jungblut, Protected Areas Officer at SPREP.
“This training is timely as it has increased understanding and buy in to the benefits of conducting PAME evaluations.”
The training, led by UNEP-WCMC facilitated understanding of the importance of protected area management effectiveness information at an international, regional, national, and site-specific scale.
Through this, participants were familiarised with the background, role and purpose of the GD-PAME.
Important feedback was also captured from participants to establish a practical workflow for updating protected area management effectiveness data across all Pacific ACP countries.
“The outcomes of this training will contribute to enhancing the regional framework for capturing, managing and sharing site-based information on effectiveness of management measures. This will help to support national efforts to update protected area data and report on international obligations,” said Mr. Paul van Nimwegen, Protected and Conserved Areas Programme Coordinator, IUCN Oceania Regional Office.
During the training, discussions focused on extracting national and regional level experiences on challenges faced with data collection and collation as well as identifying likely solutions to address these.
Opportunities to maximise dataflows in the region and improve national and regional coordination mechanisms for the collation of PAME data were also discussed.
“I found the training very useful and informative. It has provided me with a good understanding of the importance of assessing management effectiveness of our protected areas and the role that this plays in improving management of these sites,” said Ms. Hayley Weeks of the Cook Islands National Environment Service.
“It was good to learn more about the global tools for managing information generated from these assessments and how we can contribute to their accuracy. I look forward to engaging in the next steps of this training and how it can benefit the management of protected areas in the Cook Islands”.
An outcome of the training was a roadmap for initiating and sustaining regular collection and periodic update of management effectiveness data for the region. The participants actively engaged and provided input to define the next steps for developing an agreed workflow.
“The workshop generated many great suggestions from all of the participants that we will take on board to ensure that the data we have in the GD-PAME for the region better represents the work that is ongoing on the ground,” said Ms Claire Vincent, Programme Officer at UNEP-WCMC.
The virtual training was funded through the BIOPAMA Programme, an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific (OACPS) Group of States financed by the European Union 11th European Development Fund. The training was co-organised and co-implemented by SPREP, through its BIOPAMA- assisted Regional Programme of Support for Protected Areas (SPREP-PA), thus fulfilling its role to deliver capacity building initiatives and training programmes in the use of BIOPAMA supported tools and services. BIOPAMA in the Pacific is implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in partnership with SPREP and the European Commission Joint Research Centre. This partnership has seen significant enhancements of the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal, the region’s one-stop resource for protected area information.
The Introduction to the Global Database on Protected Area Management Effectiveness (GD-PAME) and related data flow training was held from 27 to 29 April 2021. Participants attended from the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Regional and international partner organisations also participated including IUCN Oceania Regional Office, The Nature Conservancy and the European Commission-Joint Research Centre.
For more information on the BIOPAMA regional resource and data hub, please contact Mr. Vainuupo Jungblut, Protected Areas Officer on email: [email protected].
To learn more about the BIOPAMA Programme, please contact Mr. Paul van Nimwegen, Protected and Conserved Areas Programme Coordinator / BIOPAMA Regional Coordinator, IUCN ORO on email: [email protected].
Photo caption: Mitiaro, Cook Islands (Credit: Hayley Weeks)