FRENCH POLYNESIA , Moorea Island - July 2008
Construction of an Interpretive Center in exchange for a community-based conservation program in support of a 2,394-acre no-take marine reserve and the establishment of a conservatory of native medicinal plants
Moorea is a high volcanic island in the Society Islands group of French Polynesia. The island is 84 square miles and has a population of about 16,000. In the last 20 years population pressure has resulted in over-fishing of the nearshore waters. The U.C. Berkeley Gump Research Station on Moorea has begun working with a local NGO, Te Pu Atitia, to create a cultural center to promote the development of conservation programs based on the combination of traditional knowledge and modern science. In exchange for Seacology helping to fund construction of the center, Atitia will work with the local population to enforce no take provisions in 2,394 acres of marine reserve in the Moorea Lagoon. Additionally Atitia will begin the collection and propagation of native plants used for traditional medicine.
UPDATE January 2009 - The project is not scheduled to begin until 2009, when construction and administrative details are expected to be finalized. In the meantime, Seacology field representative Hinano Teavai-Murphy provided preliminary architectural drawings of the construction plans for the centre during her visit to the Seacology offices in late 2008.
UPDATE June 2009 - Revised architectural drawings were sent to Seacology in March 2009. As of April 2009 Te Pu Atitia has commissioned and received architectural drawings for the Atitia Center Fare Pote’e and bathrooms (paid for by separate grant). TPA has also applied for a building permit to the mayor of Moorea, and chosen a contractor for the work. The permit is expected to be granted by the end of May 2009 and construction can begin any time after that. TPA has also applied for a grant from the CEPF which will fund the creation of a Conservation Leadership Program for the 20 islands in French Polynesia that have been listed as priority sites for threatened species.
UPDATE July 2009 - The project started in July 2009 after receiving the building permit which had been held up two months longer than anticipated. Construction has begun and is expected to be done by September.
UPDATE November 2009 - As of November 2009 the building has been completed. An official opening ceremony was attended by members of the 2009 Seacology expedition to French Polynesia.