Landowners agree to take forest stewardship on Fefen Island in Chuuk to higher level

Chuuk Conservation Society

Untitled 1After almost a year of planning and consultation with stakeholders, community leaders for the Sapo, Oror, Ununo (SOU) area on Fefen Island endorse the first comprehensive Forest Stewardship Plan in Chuuk at a brief ceremony on March 4th that took place at the Sacred Heart Parish meeting hall on Fefen Island.

The small funding of a little over $10,000 for the project was provided by the United State Forest Service and managed by the Micronesia Conservation Trust team in Pohnpei, which subgranted part of that funds to the Chuuk Conservation Society to implement the project, subject to official approval by the Chuuk Department of Agriculture.

Landowners in a designated forest management site have agreed to conserve and replant specific big trees, most especially the native plants facing threat in Chuuk, such as the Eeme tree (Cynometra yokotai), Perfume Flower plant (Fagraea berteriana), and the big Aaw tree (Ficus trukensis). The site includes varied habitats covering coastal vegetation, marshland swamp and taro patches, and upland forest critical to the protection of animal species including the threatened birds, such as the fruit bat and the endemic Chuuk Monarch.

The SOU forest management endeavor is a long term community partnership with the view to assist owners not only by conserving resources but also in seeking for financial and technical support to food crop growers and gardeners whose properties fall in the management site. Stakeholders have agreed to allow the SOU Conservation Society to serve as the implementing agent of the plan acting on behalf of owners in relating to government entities, outside partners, and service providers.

As early actions, owners identify the need to conduct stock assessment surveys for coconut tree, breadfruit tree, mangrove forest, and big trees such as mahogany, Alexandrian Laurel, and Ivory Palm. Assessment of watershed and shoreline areas claimed to have been affected by shipwreck oil spill are also prioritized as early actions within the first three years.

During the signing ceremony, Fr. Fernando Titus, pastor of the Catholic Church on Fefen Island praised the stewardship plan as a “responsible community project” and encourage other villages to consider doing the same in the near future.

Mr. Benisio Joseph has been chosen the interim chairperson for the SOU Conservation Society to lead the initial administrative matters and set the stage for early action implementation.

The management site covers over 80 hectares which includes land resources identified through the FSM “blueprint” of biological resources tagged as areas of Biological Significance (ABS) for conservation work in 2002. The blueprint contributes to the creation of the FSM National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan (NBSAP), whose major goal is to protect and sustainably manage significant marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems in the FSM. Chuuk State Department of Agriculture Director Kantito Kanas, who endorses the stewardship plan on behalf of the Chuuk State Government, hails the collaboration effort as a “big step in meeting Chuuk’s commitment to forest protection in the Micronesia Challenge”.

Now, the big challenge for the SOU Conservation Society and the entire UFO villages is to take sure steps in implementing necessary early actions and rallying broad stakeholders’ recognition and support of the plan.

For further information, contact the Chuuk Conservation Society at 330-7227.