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Environmental impacts of seabed mining brochure
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Te Ipukarea Society Brochure 2017-18

An entomologist is visiting the Cook Islands and TIS, along with the Natural Heritage Trust have taken the opportunity to use his expertise to inventory insects in Atiu.

The entomologist, Peter Maddison, will be sampling insects using direct examination of plants, sampling of insects using a sweep net, sampling special habitats, pitfall trapping for soil active insects and other invertebrates (animals without back-bones), sampling flying insects with an insect net, collecting at light and miscellaneous samples from in buildings. A report will be completed by December this year.

TIS is on the Steering Committee of the Cook Islands Marine Park along with government agencies and traditional leaders. The Steering Committee is chaired by the Office of the Prime Minister.

The SC met on 17 November 2011 to update on progress and select representatives to attend the Big Ocean’s Meeting. The Steering Committee is now tasked with examining various forms of Trusts, Marine Park management plans and technical assistance.

TIS together with Muri Environment Care members met with an EU External Monitor, Fabris Hanse to advise progress and issues with implementing the Muri WatSan project. Fabris is conducting what the EU calls a “ROM” – Result Oriented Monitoring. He is looking at three EU funded projects:
1. The Pukapuka cyclone shelter
2. Technical Assistance to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management and
3. The Muri Water and Sanitation Project

TIS and MEC informed Fabrice about the considerably long process to design and implement the project. Expectations could have been better managed if EU were able to inform the community clear timelines for project phases and the likely results in each phase.

Muri Environment Care have done considerable voluntary work, educating the public about the issues surrounding nutrient-enrichment and the resulting algal blooms in Muri lagoon.

A visit in October by a team from the Critical Ecosystems Parnership Fund (CEPF) resulted in a closer working relationship and understanding of the specific challenges we face as a small Pacific Island.

CEPF is supporting the biodiversity conservation work and capacity building of TIS during 2009-2012. Head of the Mission, John Watkin, praised the work being carried out by Ed Saul and his team at the Taktitumu Conservation Area and by Birdman George on Atiu.

A debriefing session was held on Rarotonga between TIS Executive and the CEPF with revised guidelines being agreed to which will facilitate better communications and speed of requests on both sides.
TIS are grateful to CEPF for the tremendous assistance provided to build our capacity and conserve nature.

CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Francaise de Developpement, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. The focus of CEPF is the conservation of threatened species and other globally important species.

The inception of the BPISP project was held in Auckland 3-4 November. The purpose of the meeting was to clarify roles, set up project monitoring, research needs, training needs, the communications plan and programme administration.

Project Coordinator’s from New Caledonia, Palau, French Polynesia, Fiji and our own TIS Programme Manger from the Cook Islands attended the meeting. Also present were advisors from the Pacific Invasives Initiative, Birdlife International, University of the South Pacific, SPREP, Department of Conservation and LandCare Research.

A field trip to Rangitoto Island demonstrated to participants the work done to eradicate rats from Rangitoto and how to keep the island pest free.

SPREP will be contributing NZ$2,000 towards the seabird and Invasive Alien Species survey in the northern group. The survey will:

1. Complete an inventory of all bird species for each island and motu and census population sizes with an emphasis on seabirds and particularly resident or threatened species
2. Identify all introduced mammalian threats present (feral and domestic) with particular attention to species that threaten seabirds. As possible collect information on other IAS taxa ie ants and weeds
3. Assess the feasibility (technically and socially) to eradicate mammalian IAS
4. Complete pelagic surveys for seabirds using a recognised transect methodology
5. Assess bird populations against IBA criteria and document survey results, management needs (including feasibility of IAS eradications) and priorities for all islands and at sea areas surveyed
The main donor for this project is the Packard Foundation, with the Critical Ecosystems Parntership Fund also providing support.

Ken MacDonald, who is coordinating water and sanitation work in the Cook Islands, met with TIS to seek our interest in participating in the WatSan project steering committee.

Ken’s position is funded by the NZAID Waste Management Initiative project. This project was designed by Geoff Mavromatis, Teariki Matenga and Andrew Dakers following NZAIDs recognition of sanitation issues via work done under the CIMRIS1 project.

Ken has been on island since August 2011. TIS is delighted to participate in the steering committee and looks forward to working closely with MOIP and their WatSan team.

[1] CIMRIS – Cook Islands Marine Resources Institutional Strengthening Project

IUCN Oceania Marine Coordinator, Jan Steffen visited the Cook Islands to meet with TIS and learn more about the marine programme that TIS wishes to implement.

We are supportive of the establishment of a Marine Park as we believe this will encourage wider participation in the management of the Cook Islands biodiversity and it will draw attention to the Cook Islands because of the leadership and commitment we are demonstrating to step-up conservation in our country.

While we are aware about plans to license purse seine fishing vessels and other large-scale commercial fishing boats, we believe that the marine park status will provide impetus to put conservation measures in place. This includes gear to avoid catching turtles and seabirds and conditions that prevent shark-finning in our waters.

TIS is also concerned about the environmental impacts of seabed mining. TIS has also been involved with work of the Ministry of Marine Resources and Crown Law to draft regulations to strengthen the marine ra’ui (traditional prohibition on fishing). We are hopeful that we can work closely with IUCN to bring our marine programme to fruition.

One of the immediate benefits of being a member of IUCN, is that TIS can actively and confidently assist the establishment of the Marine Park of the Cook islands due to its ability to access both information and expertise through our membership status with this internationally recognized and important conservation organization.

We were visited recently by Milika Sobey, the IUCN Oceania Water and Wetlands Coordinator. Milika was here to provide technical advice at a regional water conference. She also provided training to TIS on the use of a climate change vulnerability assessment tool called CRISTAL.

The report “Greening our Blue World: A Report on Cook Islands National Assessment on Greening the Economy” was completed by Cook Islands consultant Christina Newport this month.

The report was commissioned by the Office of the Prime Minister and UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific). TIS made a submission on this report. The report aims to assist the Cook Islands with its national and regional preparations for the Rio+20 Summit in 2012.

The report says that across the five Green Growth pathways of sustainable consumption and production the Cook Islands have a number of initiatives in place or under development that are consistent with a Green Growth strategy. These are green tax and budget reform, sustainable infrastructure, green business and markets as well as investing in natural capital. The current Cook Islands government have set a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2020.

However, the report warns that while the sector is not restricted by human resource inertia or lack of political will, future Green Growth actions will be limited by absorptive capacity and resourcing unless future activities are well integrated and consistent with other priorities.

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