An update on the Micronesia Challenge Forest Inventory and Analysis Program in the FSM

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The Micronesia Challenge Program
The Micronesia Challenge is “a commitment by the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands to preserve the natural resources that are crucial to the survival of Pacific traditions, cultures and livelihoods. The overall goal of the Challenge is to effectively conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.” Learn more about the Micronesia Challenge online at www.micronesiachallenge. com
The Terrestrial component of the Challenge looks at many indicators, including native forest cover, species diversity, abundance, forest structure, human disturbance, bird diversity, and invasive species to detect changes in biodiversity over time. The information gathered helps forest managers to make decisions to more effectively care for the forests and its many resources.

The main method utilized in this effort is the US Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program, which samples permanent forest plot points across the US mainland and Pacific islands every 10 years. The Micronesia Challenge program on the other hand, aims to monitor plots in Micronesia every 5 years, to enable resource managers to see potential changes in the terrestrial protected areas and install additional plots where needed within protected areas that don’t have existing ones. Using the FIA sampling design and protocols for monitoring conservation areas allows the data to be compared to other, similar forests in the region and provide a better gauge of forest health in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and contributes to objectives in state Forest Action Plans.
forest 02The grant was awarded by the USDA US Forest Service under its Cooperative Forestry Assistance Grant#16- IG-11052021-209 Program and managed by the Micronesia Conservation Trust’s Conservation Program. The Federated States of Micronesia’s Micronesia Challenge (MC) Forest inventory and Analysis is a monitoring program initiated in early 2016 and consists of 3 phases for effectiveness. In the Months of March and July 2016 additional MC FIA plots were established in important terrestrial areas in the four FSM states during Phases I and II of a project led by MC Terrestrial Measures Champion, Roseo Marquez. In 2016 November, Phase III of the project, installing and monitoring plots in the outer islands of Yap commenced.
To start off phase III, key consultation meetings were conducted by the Terrestrial Champion with Yap State Executives and the Yap Council of Tamol (COT). With the introductions and explanations of the MC FIA work, its value to Yap State and the FSM, full approval to work and establish MC FIA plots on the outer islands of Woleai, Fechelap, Ifaluk, Elato, Lamotrek, and Sorol was granted. The team also developed and gained endorsements for contract agreements between MCT and partner agencies - namely the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP), Guam Endangered Plant Protection Program (GEPPP) of the University of Guam and Yap Community Action Program (YapCAP). The MC FIA field crew in Yap included Eugene Eperiam, Angel Jonathan, John Horeg, Peter Mayalpiy, and Lance Sulog. This field crew boarded the Caroline Voyager and headed out to establish the 19 new MC FIA plots on the outer islands of Sorol (2 plots), Woleai (10 plots), Ifaluk (3 plots), Fechelap (2 plots) and Elato/Lamotrek (2 plots).
In total, the team has established or visited and ground-checked 93 MC FIA plots in the FSM in 2016. In January 2017 MCT hired Dr. Mikhail (Misha) Yatskov was hired by the Micronesia Conservation Trust to carry out the Quality Assurance component of the project. Misha has an educational background in forest monitoring and has worked with the FIA program throughout the region. He reviewed all the data collected over the course of the project for accuracy and visited sites to remeasure random plots as part of the quality assurance procedure. All the MC FIA plot data has been uploaded to the USFS MIDAS program for analysis.
The next step will be to analyze and report on the data and make recommendations to stakeholders in the FSM states, who will then utilize recommendations to meet local, national and regional conservation and management objectives. In 2018 MCT and project partners plan to replicate the same work in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and eventually establish MC FIA plots in the remaining MC jurisdictions over the next 5 years to provide a long-term monitoring system for terrestrial resources in the region. Ultimately, the MC FIA data will give each jurisdiction the status of its forest health and provide appropriate recommendations for sound forest management in the region.
The Micronesia Conservation Trust would like to take this opportunity to thank the following key partners in this undertaking: the USDA US Forest Service for providing financial (Cooperative Forestry Assistance Grant#16-IG-11052021-209) and technical support; the FSM national Government namely the Departments of Resources and Development and Transportation Communication and Infrastructure for providing the leadership, logistical support, guidance, approvals, transport and consultations; the Micronesia Challenge Regional Office in Yap for securing financial support, planning and logistics; Pohnpei State Government, Division of Forestry for providing a MC FIA specialist; the Conservation Society of Pohnpei for providing an MC FIA Specialist; the Guam Plant Extinction Prevention Program for providing an MC FIA Specialist and equipment; the Yap State Government for providing technical support and human resources; the Kosrae Island Resource Management Authority, Chuuk State Agriculture, Kosrae Conservation & Safety Organization, Yela, and Chuuk Conservation Society for providing technical support and enabling a strong partnership with other states in phases I and II of the project; the Yap Council of Tamol for granting the approval to work on the outer islands; and YapCAP for providing MC FIA specialist, equipment, technical support and logistical support. The project would not have been possible without the support and collaboration of the partners above and the other FSM States. Special thanks to Roseo Marquez, Rachael Nash, Eugene Joseph, Andy George, Tholman Alik, Marcellus Akapito and Bertha Reyuw for their coordinating assistance and technical expertise making the FSM MC FIA a success thus far.

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