Enhancing Niue’s natural resourcesApr 22, 2016
Niue’s unique natural environment and ecosystem provide for food security, drinking water and economic livelihood for the raised atoll’s population of over 1,600 people. The sustainability of the country, and the opportunities for its future generations, rely on the conservation and sustainable management of its remarkable natural resources.
Responding to this need, a project to strengthen Niue’s capacity to create and manage protected marine and terrestrial conservation areas for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources was officially signed in Apia on Friday April 15th, 2016, at the Samoa Multi-Country Office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and will be jointly implemented by UNDP and the Ministry of Natural Resources of Niue.
“We are pleased with the approval and signing of the Ridge to Reef project. This is the largest project to be implemented under the Ministry of Natural Resources since its establishment in early 2014. A lot of effort has been invested in its development and we look forward to starting its implementation. Strong cooperation from all key stakeholders and effective coordination will be required and to be sustained throughout the life of the project to achieve the desired outcomes,” said the Director General of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Dr. Josie Tamate.
The UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr Jaime de Aguinaga, co-signed the project as implementing agency for the project. In his remarks, Mr de Aguinaga highlighted that “the United Nations Development Programme celebrates the strong commitment of the communities and the Government of Niue to build a prosperous society that respects its rich environmental and cultural heritage. Niue is a unique island with very special ecosystems, and this project will support the creation and management of key protected areas to ensure the sustainable use of those natural resources and protect its remarkable biodiversity. UNDP also appreciates the financial support provided by the Global Environmental Facility, which is significantly contributing to the sustainable development of the Pacific.”
This project has some distinguishing features, such as the combination of community conservation areas and government-led protected areas, as well as the full participation of village councils and communities as custodians of the land. Another unique characteristic of this project is its paradigm shift in the management of marine and terrestrial protected areas from a site-centric approach to a holistic “ridge to reef” approach. This approach will range across the entire island and the surrounding reefs, recognising the value and vulnerability of the groundwater lens which extends right across the entire island. All land use decisions must consider the potential impacts on the entire environment and thus the project introduces the concept of ecological connectivity on a landscape and seascape basis in Niue. The project also covers the creation of a marine protected area at Beveridge Reef which, while distant from Niue Island, may be a source of recruitment of various marine species for Niue’s coral reefs and coastal environment through favourable ocean currents.
The project reflects Niue’s new National Strategic Plan (2014-2019), whose objective is to “build a sustainable future that meets our economic and social needs while preserving environmental integrity, social stability, and the Niue culture”. In particular, the project will support the practical implementation of the 5th Pillar of the Plan, which focuses on the “sustainable use and management of Niue’s natural resources and environment for present and future generations”.
This project has also been developed in accordance with the goals and scope of the UNDP-GEF Regional Ridge-to-Reef Programme "Pacific Islands Ridge-to-Reef National Priorities – Integrated Water, Land, Forest and Coastal Management to Preserve Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services, Store Carbon, Improve Climate Resilience and Sustain Livelihoods”.