PALAU, Babeldaob Island, Ngardmau State - November 2003
Demarcation, training and educational materials for the Ngermasech Marine and Mangrove Conservation Area
The state of Ngardmau on the western coast of Palau's largest island, Babeldaob, has created the 618-acre Ngermasech Marine Conservation Area. Though the area was officially designated in 1998, Palauan law specifies that the area does not officially become a conservation area until it is demarcated. Seacology will assist the Palau Conservation Society (PCS) with the official establishment of this marine reserve by providing equipment for demarcation buoys, as well as educational materials regarding the reserve for the local community.
UPDATE July 2004 - The Ngermasech Conservation Area at Ngardmau has been demarcated. A new governor was elected in November 2003 who has given his support to the area's conservation. Currently the state is drafting new legislation to recognize the Ngermasech area as a state recognized conservation area. As with the Ebiil Channel project, work has begun to create a community organization to support conservation.
UPDATE January 2005 - The Ngermasech Conservation Area is still strongly supported by State of Ngardmau and the whole community. The government has provided a boat that will be used solely for monitoring and surveillance of Ngermasech. This is a positive commitment from the state, as this was one of the issues in regard to surveillance of the area. Two months ago, Palau Conservation Society's Marine Team met with the state's director of public works and two other state employees, all of whom have been involved with the initial demarcation of Ngermasech. During this meeting PCS representatives were informed that local species of fish are thriving within the area, including a species of sea cucumber that is highly valued locally.
UPDATE July 2005 - Current legislation has recently passed to extend the Ngermasech Conservation Area until 2010. Community interest in conservation has increased as demarcation within the conservation area has become more visible, educational materials have been provided and the presence of conservation officers within the area has increased. Surrounding communities have begun to discuss the possibility of creating a new conservation area to the north to protect a critical mangrove area. There remains full support for the Ngermasech Conservation Area from the Governor of Ngardmau, legislators, and local chiefs and community members.
UPDATE July 2007 - After her site visits in Micronesia, Seacology Senior Program Officer Karen Peterson reports that the area is well-demarcated with buoys and is along a beautiful stretch of mangrove coastline. The “floating ranger station,” which was originally built with local materials has recently been rebuilt with more robust materials. There is a small solar panel on the roof of the station, which will be hooked up to a light in the near future. The station offers a good vantage point of the entire reserve as well as the mangrove area, where most poaching takes place (at night).
UPDATE May 2010 - Due to its exposure to the elements, the outpost has required regular maintenance and upkeep. The locals have twice repaired and rebuilt the outpost, at their own expense. In 2009 Seacology supplied a maintenance grant to replace the structure underneath the outpost with more durable materials. As of May 2010 Simon Ellis reports that the repairs on the outpost are complete.