A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
Interested in GIS?
Monday, February 28, 2005
Posted 3:00 PM by Luigi
"Sinking Island Arks"
From the University of the South Pacific (USP).
Dr. Randy Thaman, Professor of Pacific Islands Biogeography at USP, gave the keynote address on the opening day of the Tenth Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held in Bangkok, Thailand, 7-11 February 2005. In his address, entitled “Sinking Island Arks - Island Biodiversity and Island Living Under Threat”, Professor Thaman provided a platform for the discussion, finalisation and acceptance of a new thematic ten-year work programme on “island biodiversity”under the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) for consideration at the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD to be held in Brazil in 2006. 188 countries are party to the CBD, which has as its central goals, the conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of the benefits to the Earths fragile biodiversity inheritance (ecosystems, species and genetic diversity).
In his address, Professor Thaman stressed the uniqueness and fragility of island biodiversity (IBD) and obligate dependence that island nations and peoples have on island and associated marine biodiversity as a foundation for sustainable development. Professor Thaman said that from a strictly biodiversity conservation perspective, most of the generalizations with respect to the uniqueness and fragility of IBD are relevant for both small island developing states (SIDS), but also for larger, more developed island states and island communities. From a human or cultural perspective, the promotion of sustainable use and benefit sharing aspects of IBD have particular relevance to those small island nations and islanders who wish to, or must live on, smaller islands away from capital cities, main islands, and the mainstream of development and homogenizing forces of globalization . . . those islanders who depend most on their IBD! Professor Thaman also stressed that the new ten-year Island Biodiversity Programme of Work under the CBD provides a unique opportunity for building bridges among ALL ISLANDS AND ALL ISLAND NATIONS in efforts to conserve, sustainably use and equitably share IBD as a foundation for sustainable development.
Professor Thaman likened islands and their surrounding nearshore marine biodiversity to self-contained, bounded “arks”, each with their own unique, often very limited, assemblage of biodiversity. These “island arks” are among the most legendary biodiversity “hot spots” on earth“ and were largely responsible for Darwin and Wallace challenging the biblical ark of Christendom and the formulation of their theory on the evolution of new life forms. Alfred Russel Wallace, the “father of island biogeography,” had suggested in his classic work, Island Life, that: “. . . it is not too much to say that when we have mastered the difficulties presented by the peculiarities of island life we shall find it comparatively easy to deal with the more complex and less clearly defined problems of continental distribution.”
Professor Thaman suggested that, in addition to being among the Earth’s biodiversity “hot spots”, islands also include some of the Earth’s most biodiversity- poor and highly threatened biodiversity “COOL SPOTS”! He stressed that some of these “island arks” are sinking! Some have had most of their biodiversity destroyed, degraded and exported, as in the case of Nauru, in order to enrich others’ soils! Others, like Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and, most recently, the islands of the northern Indian Ocean, such as the Maldives and the Nicobar Islands (where over 700 indigenous coastal people died) are being swamped and ravaged by the seas around them and taking on water. Many were being invaded and swamped by alien pests, hitchhikers and stowaways (weeds, birds, snakes, land snails, ants, diseases, etc.) that are killing, or forcing overboard, many of the original, often endemic, indigenous passengers (plants and animals), which is akin to biodiversity genocide.
Furthermore, an increasing number of “captains” and “human crews” of ancient island arks, Thaman suggested, seemed to be losing their way. Many had lost ancient navigation skills and knowledge of the bounty and fragility of their seas and island ecosystems. No longer able to maintain their arks, they no longer know, understand or care for their passengers, allowing them to be invaded, perish, thrown overboard or exported to more urbanized arks or continents . . . ., often with little knowledge and/or regard for the long-term sustainability and equitable sharing of limited supplies (resources) or maintaining intricate social (ecological) relationships.
Our mission, in the context of the CBD, Thaman went on to suggest, is to ensure a sustainable future for “island life”. In order to do so, we must ensure that all stakeholders know what island biodiversity is, how unique, fragile and vulnerable it is compared to continental biodiversity, and why island communities and nations are so disproportionately dependent on it for their ecological, economic and cultural survival.
Thaman quoted Director General of the UN, Kofi Annan, in an address to a special high-level meeting on Reefs, Island Communities and Protected Areas (held as a side event at the 10-year Review of the Barbados Plan of Action (BPoA) for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Mauritius this January) who said: “If at one time what happened on and beneath the seas was “out of sight, out of mind,” that can no longer be the case. Let us work together: to protect the oceans and coastal zones; to help small islands survive and prosper; and to ensure that all people enjoy a sustainable future.”
Professor Thaman emphasized that islands offer some of the best answers to, and opportunities for, solving the global biodiversity crisis and that the conservation of island biodiversity would play a major role in helping to stabilize the Earth ecosystem, promote sustainable development and PREVENT and alleviate real poverty! He stressed in particular that small isolated offshore island in all countries offer some of the greatest opportunities for protecting plants and animals and associated human cultures that are currently under threat or disappearing on main islands and continents. This is because they often are free from invasive pests, diseases, parasites and predators, including more urbanized human communities, and often harbour some of the only remaining populations of unique and threatened organisms and relatively sef-sufficient human communities.
Each of these goals has associated global targets and times frames and island-specific actions for the parties to the CBD.
Professor Thaman believes that both the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to which some 16 Pacific Island countries, including all of the USP member countries, except Tokealu, are party, and the new 10-year work programme on Island Biodiversity, offer island countries, whether developing or developed countries, one of the greatest opportunities to promote a truly sustainable future for island peoples and for keeping our many island arks and their precious biological crews afloat and on course for millennia to come.
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