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
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Thursday, January 12, 2006
Posted 1:50 PM by Luigi
WWF leads volunteer efforts to battle forest fires on New Caledonia
From the WWF website.
More New Caledonia's dry forests
More on forest fires
New Caledonian researcher receives scientific award
WWF Global Forest Programme
12 Jan 2006
Noumea, New Caledonia – WWF is assisting authorities on the French Pacific Ocean territory of New Caledonia to fight fires that have threatened the island’s endangered forests and wildlife. The fires, which have been blazing for nearly two weeks, have engulfed more than 4,000ha in a critical area near the capital, Noumea, destroying rare flora and fauna along the way.
“Several rare plant species are being wiped from the planet,” said Regis Dick of WWF-France. “Some unusual plants that thrive in the cobalt- and nickel-rich soil are disappearing, and a species of gymnosperme, exclusive to New Caledonia, is also under threat.” New Caledonia represents a fragment of the ancient super-continent Gondwana.
Isolated for approximately 80 million of years, New Caledonian's tropical forest ecosystems are among the most unique on earth, where more than 80 per cent of the nearly 3,000 native plant species found nowhere else, including the rare Neocallitropsis pancheri, which was once heavily exploited for its fragrent oils. Today, much of the moist, dense tropical forest is gone, and that which remains increasingly threatened.
Major threats to the remaining habitat include uncontrolled burning, mining activities, and predation by introduced species. Despite the yearly scourge of fires in New Caledonia and repeated appeals from environmental groups such as WWF, authorities on New Caledonia have failed to establish adequate measures to prevent and control fires.
Responding to the situation, WWF-New Caledonia launched a wide-spread public appeal, together with partners (ASNNC, CIE, Endemia, Symioses, SCO, and others), for local citizens to join the effort to fight a particularly devastating fire effecting one of the island’s important watersheds. Over a period of five days, some 400 volunteers — armed with shovels, water vaporizers and courage — risked their lives to support fire fighters in their effort to control the spreading fire. With the arrival of French disaster teams, the fires are now extinguished.
“Now that the fires are over, we are working to devise an effective fire prevention and fire fighting plan for New Caledonia,” said Hubert Geraux, WWF's New Caledonia Ecoregional Coordinator. “We hope to ensure that no fire-related ecological disaster of this magnitude can occure in the future.”
In addition to the effects fires have on the island’s flora and fauna, subsequent torrential rains wash away nutrient rich topsoil and fine sediment, which clogs waterways and smothers coral reef dwelling organisms in the island’s many pristine lagoons. As a result, fire-scorched areas suffer a drastic loss of biodiversity, and in some cases, their capacity to sustain life in the future. “These combined effects explain why fire outranks invasive species and mining as the greatest threat to biodiversity in New Caledonia,” said Geraux.
For further information
Ahab Charles Downer, Country Programme Manager
WWF New Caledonia
Tel: +687 27 50 25
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