Invasive species are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity in island ecosystems. However, conservation practitioners in the Pacific represent a host of different agencies and countries, and most are geographically and professionally isolated. As a result, few Pacific conservationists currently have the information, expertise, and support they need to manage invasive species effectively.
The Pacific Invasives Learning Network (PILN) connects these Pacific professionals to share knowledge, expertise, tools, and ideas. Multi-disciplinary project teams can work together on strategies with critical input from other teams and experts, resulting in a common vision and a plan for effective conservation action.
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The PILN mission is:
to empower effective invasive species management through a participant-driven network that meets priority needs, rapidly shares skills and resources, provides links to technical expertise, increases information exchange, and accelerates on-the-ground action.
PILN serves Teams of Pacific island agencies responsible for invasives management, including agencies responsible for agriculture and natural resource management, international trade and border control, as well as environment and conservation.
*** #PILN 2016 successfully brought 16 country teams together in Samoa. ***
PILN's activities and agenda are determined by the individual and shared needs of the participants. Examples of projects include:
- Developing a national invasives strategy;
- Designing a public awareness programme;
- Eradicating invasive weeds;
- Restoring offshore islands by the removal of rats, ants, and other invasive species.
The PILN secretariat has been established at SPREP in Samoa. The network coordinator recruits the teams, organises meetings and activities, and provides ongoing support to network participants. PILN Soundbites, an outline of regional activities and achievements, is periodically distributed to the network to celebrate success and share lessons learned.
The Pilot programme
A 2-year pilot programme of PILN was launched in Palau in May 2006 and completed at the end of May 2008. Activities and achievements over the pilot have been summarised and the experience analysed for the lessons learned in the design and establishment of peer-learning networks.
An external review of the network was carried out in May 2008 and concluded that:
- PILN was regarded, both by partner organisations and in-country participants, as having been a great success.
- There is demand for the expansion of PILN to all countries and territories of the SPREP region.
- A full-time coordinator is essential for maintaining the network.
- PILN’s greatest weaknesses were identified as insecurity of funding and a poor institutional framework.
- PILN is an excellent model for capacity building using learning networks. It has wide applicability in many areas other than invasive species.
We believe that PILN will be a highly effective, far-reaching, and sustainably financed strategy to address invasive species and that the network will have a lasting impact on conservation in Pacific Island nations.