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Conservation benefit: Establishment of the Epinup Mangrove Forest Reserve and Marine Protected Area

Community benefit: Community water system

Date Approved: 07.2004

Mangroves

This project protects mangroves, which trap more CO2 than any other kind of forest and as a result, slow global warming.

Ocean

This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

Chuuk has one of the largest closed lagoons in the world: an expanse of 2,129 square kilometers of high islands, atolls and water, circled by a 225-kilometer long barrier reef. The rural village of Epinup holds a large portion of the last healthy and intact mangrove forest on Weno Island.

The community of Epinup has signed a petition calling for the conservation of nearly 364 acres of its mangrove forest and marine areas. The Epinup community wants to protect the last remaining mangrove forest on Weno for an initial 25 years. In exchange, Seacology is funding a community water system for the village.

Project Updates

June 2011

This project has been successfully completed.

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January 2011

Ten water tanks were constructed between 2005 and 2006, each positioned in and around the village to supply water to multiple households. Remaining funds will be used to purchase 200 PVC pipes so they can also access water from nearby streams in case of droughts. Two kayaks have been ordered for the mangrove conservation area management.

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June 2009

As of April 2009 the Epinup site manager identified 4 conservation officers. Community officers and the site manager attended a 2-day environmental awareness and education conference facilitated by CCS. The conservation officers and site manager along with CCS attended a 4-day coral reef monitoring training facilitated by Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) in June 2008. The neighboring village of Wichap, known for encroaching upon the Epinup mangrove area, has shown interest in environmental conservation as a result of the efforts concentrated in Epinup.

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June 2008

As of April 2008 the community’s conservation action planning committee met several times to start a conservation training process based on The Nature Conservancy’s Efroymson Coaches Network for Conservation Action, the Pacific Islands Managed Protected Areas (PIMPAC) network, and the Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA) network. As of May 2008, plans for training would continue through 2008 as well as the purchase and distribution of conservation officer equipment.

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October 2007

The project leader has moved from Epinup and arranged for replacement leaders. Plans by the new leaders in the next several months is to revise the work plan for conservation activities, review remaining budget items and implement the process of training conservation officers and installing the protected area boundary signs.

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July 2007

After her site visits in Micronesia, Seacology Senior Program Officer Karen Peterson reports that the tanks are being well-used. There were cups full of toothbrushes by the taps, and clean laundry hung all around. It is clear the tanks are a tremendous asset to the community. It appears some individuals from the community are cutting the mangroves for firewood. A land grants employee who accompanied Karen stated that he had spoken with the village women’s group regarding not cutting the mangroves, and talked about planting some sort of alternative fuel wood.

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January 2007

As of October 2006 all catchments were completed and materials were purchased to paint the catchments and construct mangrove forest reserve boundary signs. Two students from the local college are conducting environmental awareness talks during youth activities and other community meetings. Upcoming projects include completing the final stages of the MPA signage, establishing an Environmental Club at the Annex School, and hiring and training four conservation officers.

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June 2006

Field Representative Simon Ellis visited the site in March 2006 and reported on the status of the project. The Epinup project represents the first effort by a marginalized community in Chuuk to sustainably manage their resources in the face of mounting environmental pressure from outside the area. Ten water tanks were constructed in 2005, each positioned in and around the village to supply water to multiple households. Plans for 2006 include training conservation officers to work with the community to patrol the protected area and to install MPA boundary markers.

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September 2005

While there was a slight delay in construction due to a shortage of available cement in the area, all but two of the ten fresh water tanks for the community water system are completed. The Epinup community plans to spend the rest of 2005 completing the water system and establishing the Epinup Mangrove Forest Reserve and Marine Protected Area.

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July 2005

In collaboration with Xavier High School, the Epinup Community Council started its conservation plan and the construction of the community water system in early 2005. Installation of forest reserve boundary signs, training of conservation officers, and the establishment the environmental awareness portion of the program is scheduled to be completed by early 2006. The project’s visibility has encouraged the neighboring village of Wichep to collaborate with Epinup to protect the last stretch of healthy mangrove forest in the area.

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January 2005

According to Micronesia Field Representative Olivier Wortel, the community is moving forward with its conservation plan, partnering with Xavier High School to carry out the project. The funds that are to be released will be divided equally for the upgrade of their community water system and the planning, implementation, demarcation and enforcement of their forest and marine reserve. The State Legislature is expected to support the conservation area with legislation, and the Department of Marine Resources (monitoring and surveillance of reserve) and the Chuuk EPA (monitoring the water system) have stated a desire to be part of the overall effort.

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