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Palau

Ngerkeklau Island

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Conservation benefit: Permanent protection of 37 acres (22 terrestrial, 15 marine, including seagrass) dugong and sea turtle habitat; environmental education

Community benefit: Construction of pier, plant nursery, storage for educational equipment

Date Approved: 06.2017

Forest

This project protects forest, preventing the release of greenhouse gases and reducing erosion that damages coastal and ocean ecosystems.

Seagrass

This project protects seagrass, which traps more CO2 than any other marine ecosystem, slowing global warming.

The small Micronesian nation of Palau is extraordinarily rich in marine biodiversity. This project will protect Ngerkeklau, an uninhabited 22-acre island just off the northern tip of Palau’s main island, and the waters surrounding it.

Hawksbill and green sea turtles nest on the island. The island is also home to the endangered Micronesian megapode. These unusual birds use their sturdy legs to scrape together big mounds of organic material. Then they incubate their eggs inside, where the decaying vegetation keeps the eggs warm.

But the most ecologically significant creature is the endangered dugong, the manatee’s Pacific cousin, which grazes in the island’s seagrass. Palau has the region’s only population of dugongs. This population is exceptionally vulnerable, for two reasons: It is both small (only a few hundred individuals) and isolated (hundreds of miles from other populations).

Our local nonprofit partner, the Ebiil Society, uses an environmental educational center on the island, training teachers and kids. It limits access to the island to those with valid research or educational objectives. The Seacology grant will be used to build a pier, a small storage facility for field equipment, and a plant nursery. The nursery will aid the reforestation programs Ebiil Society has run since 2013, training women to restore degraded land. The pier will prevent damage to the seagrass beds around the island. Currently, people coming to the island must wade through the seagrass for 50 to 100 meters to get to shore.

Project Updates

May 2019

The island and a 100-meter coastal zone around it are now officially protected areas.
Our nonprofit partner, the Ebiil Society, continues to monitor native plant plots as well as dugong and bird populations, and to conduct environmental education programs.

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December 2018

Seacology’s field representative in Micronesia, Simon Ellis, visited this site in November and reports that the project is nearly complete. The pier, plant nursery, and storage room have all been built and are in use.
Our nonprofit partner, the Ebiil Society, has written a draft of a management plan for the island; a state law will make the plan legally binding. Ebiil is continuing to monitor native plant plots, dugong populations, and bird populations.

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May 2018

Monitoring of native plant plots, dugong populations, and bird populations is continuing. The plant nursery has been built and is being used to support forest education with schools and local women; it contains individuals of endangered species and more than 1,000 native tree seedlings, which will help restore degraded forest land. Construction of the pier began on schedule in February and should be finished this month.

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January 2018

The State of Ngarchelong’s governor signed an executive order designating the island and a 100-meter coastal zone as a protected area. Our nonprofit partner, the Ebiil Society, will work with the state to conduct required assessments and develop a management plan for the island. A state law will make the plan legally binding. Ebiil has developed cultural and natural trails throughout the island, featuring the historical remains of an 800-year-old village and nesting areas for hawksbill and green turtles, nesting areas for the Palauan megapode, and native plants. Trail maps for visitors were created using geospatial mapping. Monitoring of native plant plots, dugong populations, and bird populations is continuing. The storage room is finished and in use, and construction of the plant nursery was scheduled to begin in late January 2018. A site for the pier has been identified and assessed; construction is scheduled to begin in February.

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