First community conservation area launched in Torba

Launching of the first community conservation area in Torba. Photo: Live & Learn Vanuatu

The first Community Conservation Area (CCA) in TORBA Province was launched recently as part of a project focusing on community-based forest protection.

Located on the south western coast of Gaua, Malaklolop Community Conservation Area is home to many birds, plants and reptiles, some of which are endemic to the island. Malaklolop is part of the intact forest areas of west Gaua that supports and helps maintain the largest freshwater lake in the Pacific (barring PNG and New Zealand) known as Lake Letas.

The establishment of Malaklolop CCA will help to protect and manage the rare habitats and maintain the island’s biological diversity and uniqueness.

Formal conservation is new to locals on Gaua.

Communities in west Gaua normally practice traditional tabu protection over natural resources on land and sea. However, due to increasing factors as rising population growth, people often disrespect traditional tabus.

It is important to conserve species of flora and fauna in TORBA Province, said provincial Secretary General, Reynold Surmat.

“Gaua Island is one of the Vanuatu’s active volcanic islands and is also a Key Biodiversity Area,” he said.

“The livelihoods of the people in Vanuatu depend entirely on their natural ecosystems provide.

“To ensure we have a healthy ecosystem to sustain our food security and well-being, we need to stand against development pressure and population pressure to preserve our key biodiversity areas; habitats and ecosystems.”

While acknowledging the project for establishing the CCA in TORBA, Paramount Chief John Star from Dolav Community stressed that conserving significant resources now protects the livelihoods of future generation.

Malaklolop CCA was launched by the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation (DEPC), Live and Learn Vanuatu and the Provincial Government as part of a project under Nakau Programme implemented in Vanuatu and two other Pacific countries.

Director of DEPC, Donna Kalfatak, urged all community leaders to better manage resources in Malaklolop CCA.

She also explained the importance of protecting biodiversity and valuable resources.

The total number of CCAs registered under the Environment Protection Act now totals up to nine, following the launch of Malaklolop CCA.

Malaklolop project was funded by co-funded by Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund and UNDP GEF small Grants.

Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan and the World Bank.

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