The traditional chiefs of Choll Village informally protected the area, called Taoch era Ilebei, several years ago. (Palau’s constitution gives traditional leaders this authority.) But this traditional level of protection still allows villagers to, in season, fish in traditional ways, dig for mangrove clams, and catch crabs. Some mangrove cutting is also allowed. This project brings additional, long-term protection to a 50-acre mangrove tract at the northern tip of Palau’s main island, Babeldaob. Like all mangrove forests, this one is important because it protects coastal communities from damage when tropical storms churn up wind and waves, and it is an important nursery for many species of reef fish. These mangroves are also home to crocodiles, white mangrove clams, black mangrove crabs, colorful fiddler crabs, big-eyed mud-skippers, giant seawater shrimps, and many more species.
Going forward, however, the area will be incorporated into the Kerradel Conservation Network, part of Palau’s Protected Area Network. Human activities will be further restricted. Only some subsistence fishing will continue, and tree-cutting will be prohibited.
With a Seacology grant, the village is repairing its traditional stone dock, where fishing canoes and boats tie up. The dock was built in the traditional way, using boulders and stones collected from the reef and brought back on canoes and rafts. (This renovation uses stones from land quarries instead of reefs.) The stone walkway is 275 feet long and nine feet wide, and about five feet tall from the seabed. But because the sea has risen so much, the walkway needs to be built up two more feet.