Community-based monitoring of biodiversity and forests of Vanuatu

On the picture you can see rangers measuring plants

Country: Vanuatu
Organisation: Live and Learn Vanuatu
Support area: Conserving natural carbon sinks / forestry
BMU funding: 114,598 €
Project start: 01/01/2022
Project end: 31/12/2023
Website: http://www.livelearn.org/

Vanuatu, an island state in the South Pacific, is one of the regions most affected by climate change in the world. Effective management of Community Conservation Areas has been identified as pivotal for area-based approaches to protect key biodiversity species and for supporting sustainable livelihoods in a changing climate. The IKI Small Grants project introduces community-based monitoring in Vanuatu’s community protected areas, based on a mobile app for local rangers, thus improving national biodiversity and forest observation. The project creates added value by further developing and testing a ranger tool kit and app, introducing these tools in the protected areas and feeding the results into national monitoring systems. With the local communities as well as national government institutions and environmental NGOs involved, all relevant target groups are addressed and their participation in sustainable land use planning is supported.

INITIAL SITUATION

Land in Vanuatu is 98% community-owned. Community Conservation Areas (CCA) are factually the sole legal structure for conservation area management.
The currently 9 existing CCAs in Vanuatu range from 100 to 10.000+ hectares in sizes and are each managed by a local CCA committee according to an individual management plan and supported by local rangers. Most CCA’s area’s begun as initiative from the community and were later presented to the Vanuatu government to be registered by Vanuatu’s Department of Environment, Protection and Conservation Department (DEPC) under the DEPC act.
The absence of a functional community-based monitoring system, small operating resources and intangible benefits lead to limited management effort and effectiveness in the 9 gazetted CCA. In order to better manage CCAs and their registration, effective tools and resources need to be provided to Rangers and CCA committees.

TARGET GROUP

The project involves 6 gazetted Community Conservation Areas (CCA), with the respective local- and custom authorities, CCA committees and rangers. Currently, most registered CCA governance groups, CCA committees and rangers are voluntarily based positions nominated by the chief’s council with their roles being defined in the CCA management plans. CCA management committees are usually made of 13 committee members including 2 rangers, serving a term of not more than 3 years.
On the national level, heads of environment and forestry departments, planning- and GIS-officers as well as relevant ODA-project managers are targeted. The project works especially closely with the Department of Environment, Protection and Conservation Department (DEPC), which presented the first draft version of the Ranger Toolkit & Ranger App in 2019.

APPROACH AND ACTIVITIES

The implementation of the project emphasises on the local level empowerment of rangers and local management committees to lead effective management approaches in biodiversity monitoring and actions at the local level. Further the project establishes practical technical requirements for integration of community-based monitoring data to (inter-)national Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) and information systems. Such harmonization and integration support further development of cross-sectoral national land use planning, it enables government institutions to tailor extension services better towards community needs and increases community access to financial- and technical resources.
Activities:

The project develops new and upgraded modules for the Ranger Toolkit & Ranger App and introduces their application and use to the Community Conservation Areas (CCAs). Specifically, one updated module for forest monitoring is developed as well as an additional module on monitoring of mangroves, one on monitoring of management activities and significant events and one on disasters response and recovery plans for CCA’s. 18 Rangers are trained on the use of the app and 99 local management committees are trained to analyse the results and create planning’s for restoration approaches.Several meetings with all CCAs as well as individual missions to each CCA are organised to ensure the quality of the data collected in the field and to support event-based community monitoring mechanisms. The exchange also aims at contributing to the broader understanding of the scope and estimation of local management and contributes implementing the respective CCA management plans and to their further development.
In order to integrate the monitoring data from CCAs into national MRV for national sustainability strategies and to produce awareness and commitment for cooperation, the project organizes several national stakeholder workshops and individual stakeholder consultation meetings with government representatives from relevant agencies.
Finally, the project produces national policy recommendations and a guide paper on integration of community-based monitoring data into national MRV- and information systems.

CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT

IKI Small Grants supports Live & Learn Vanuatu in its organisational capacity development through:

  • trainings in the areas of IT, database and in-depth trainings on Ranger Toolkit & Ranger App
  • trainings on environmental law, specifically the enforcement of CCA rules & bye-laws
  • courses on land use planning and business management

ABOUT THE ORGANISATION

Live & Learn Vanuatu (LLV) is a non-government, not-for-profit organisation which aims to promote greater understanding of and action towards environmental sustainability. LLV’s priority is to support communities in sustaining their environments by improving practice. Most of its time and resources are spent with people in their community inspiring action and change.