Yela Valley contains the largest stand of majestic “Ka” trees (Terminalia carolinensis) left in the world. The freshwater forested wetland in the Yela Valley is the heart of an unusually pristine tropical watershed extending from the ridgetop to the reef.
In 2006, the traditional landowners formed a community-based organization called YELA (Yela Environment Landowners Authority) to manage this privately owned property as a protected area in Kosrae. The most interesting species for conservation in the area is the Ka tree. This remarkably intact forest also provides habitat for the endangered Micronesian pigeon and Mariana fruit bat.
To promote ecotourism in the area, Seacology is funding construction of a visitors’ center and a 265-foot boardwalk across the wetland, and clearing of key waterways to allow impact-free access to the forest area by boat. In exchange, the community will establish a 87-acre area as a no-take reserve in perpetuity.