Tag Archives: KAPII

President Anote Tong helps plant mangroves in a KAPII initiative to protect our coastlines.

Kiribati gets 37,000 new mangroves

Press Release, 2011

Over 37,000 mangrove seedlings have recently been planted on the islands of Aranuka, Butaritari, Maiana, Makin and in North and South Tarawa.

The seedlings were planted through an activity funded by KAPII (Kiribati Adaptation Program Phase II) under the supervision of the Government of Kiribati’s Environment and Conservation Division.

Turang Favae, Acting Biodiversity and Conservation Officer at the Environment and Conservation Division says, “First and foremost it contributes to the building of coastlines and protects our shores against coastal erosion.”

Mangroves, although considered a ‘soft’ option when compared to seawalls, can be one of the most effective forms of coastal protection that in addition provide a range of other benefits.

“We see mangroves as an important habitat for marine life that use the mangroves as their homes. In that sense mangrove ecosystems are important to the marine species that we depend on for our livelihoods,” says Mrs. Favae. “They also contribute to the natural carbon dioxide cycle, act as buffers to storm surges and sea sprays and help filter nutrient runoff from land as mangrove roots absorb these nutrients and reduce pollution impacts on the sea.”

Dr. Helene Jacot Des Combes, of the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development at the University of the South Pacific, Suva, sees mangroves as a coastal protection option that can go beyond government and into the hands of the people.

“It is a solution that is not as costly as others and it can be done by the community, there is no real maintenance required and it profits the community by providing extra food and fire wood,” says Dr. Jacot Des Combe.

Community involvement in the planting is indeed central to the planting programme implemented in Kiribati confirms Mrs. Favae. “The importance of engaging the community is to gain their full support in the management of the mangroves themselves. We encourage and practice mangrove planting with communities, youth groups and school students so they can see the importance of planting and gain a sense of ownership to look after and manage the mangroves.”

The Government of Kiribati has long recognised the importance of healthy coastal ecosystems and well managed coastal protection. Mangrove planting is seen to support these national aims that are outlined in both the 2008-2011 Kiribati Development Plan (KDP) and the 2006-2010 Kiribati National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan (NBSAP).

“To replant native plants contributes to the renewal of the ecosystem. When planting is successful it has impacts both on the protection of the coast and also for food security by providing more fish and crabs for the community,” says Dr. Jacot Des Combe.

In Kiribati mangroves are also culturally important as they are utilised as a source of building materials, dye and medicine. Yet one issue encountered has been barnacles that have caused the destruction of smaller seedlings, particularly in South Tarawa.

Mrs. Favae has long been concerned about this issue. “It appears there is not much we can do about the barnacles, as it has been suggested their presence is linked to sea water salinity levels.”

Regardless of the obstacles faced, the program has proved successful with the majority of seedlings planted now growing towards becoming healthy mature plants.

Perhaps most importantly public awareness of the importance of mangroves is growing in Kiribati. To lead by example, the President of Kiribati himself recently planted mangroves alongside local youths in South Tarawa.

Through her experience in the Outer Islands, Mrs. Favae knows that “community support is essential to the sustainability of mangroves.” The significance of this cannot be understated, as mangrove planting is a climate adaptation strategy that truly places the ability to act into the hands of the people of Kiribati.

The atolls and islands of Kiribati are not more than a few meters above sea level. Photo: Finn Frandsen, Politiken

Seawalls to protect Kiribati shorelines

Tarawa, Kiribati, 10 August 2010: The lives of over 40,000 people in South Tarawa, Kiribati are linked by a single road.It  provides not only transport but a vital connection to supplies,  schools, hospitals and the airport. Upon arrival, it is impossible not  to notice the fragility of this crucial logistical link that is often  literally crumbling into the lagoon. In some areas the adjacent main  water supply pipeline has been uncovered and is also at risk due to  coastal erosion.

“Kiribati is vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise which we can see the effects of visually,” said Tebutonga Ereata, Director of Lands at the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agriculture Development (MELAD), highlighting the urgency of the situation. “There are places that have been eroded quite seriously. We are already vulnerable now.”

Four key locations in South Tarawa are being protected by new KAPII (Kiribati Adaptation Program – Pilot Implementation Phase II)  seawall constructions. The design for new walls at the Ambo-Taborio  causeway, Bairiki-Nanikaai causeway, Korobu Road and Bonriki Airport  runway have been prepared by utilizing a new set of guidelines  specifically developed for Kiribati by BECA International and funded by  KAPII. These ‘Shoreline Protection Guidelines’ are now available  for use in Kiribati to design and implement improved coastal protection  measures that include traditional sandbag walls and also consider new  seawall designs and ‘soft’ options.

“The new guidelines will be a really important document for the government and for this ministry,” said Moanataake Beiabure, Acting Director of the Ministry of Public Works and Utilities. “From  them we can base a method to carry out the proper surveys and then  adopt which kind of coastal protection is appropriate. It may not always  be a seawall, it can be soft protection such as beach replenishment or  mangrove planting.”

Mr. Ereata also agreed regarding the importance of this new document. “The  guidelines will assist decision makers and especially the Foreshore  Management Committee that makes recommendations to approve development  along the foreshore. They have been developed in such a way that will  make decisions easier and well informed. It is crucial that we use them  and train people how to use them.”

The development of the  guidelines involved the Foreshore Management Committee and four key  ministries who collaborated during workshops held by BECA International.

“They  (the guidelines) need to be further implemented into relevant  department activities so that they are really used as a day to day guide  in this aspect where coastlines are concerned. We need to really get  that out there,” said Mr. Ereata.

This type  of cross-sector approach is seen as vital for Climate Change Adaptation  (CCA) efforts where related issues often impact across every part of  society. Mr. Beiabure even felt that “the public can adopt these guidelines for their use, not just the government.”

In  June 2010 the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicated  that it would “almost inevitably” increase predictions for sea-level  rises due to climate change. With this dramatic news the importance of  the new ‘Shoreline Protection Guidelines’ to Kiribati are highlighted  even more than ever.

The Government of Kiribati KAPII project  is supported by the World Bank, the Global Environmental Facility,  AusAID and NZAID. The key goal is to reduce Kiribati’s vulnerability to  climate change, climate variability and sea level rise.

Related Information

For more information, contact: Government Of Kiribati, Office Of Te Beretitenti (President), P.O. Box 68, Bairiki, Tarawa, Republic of Kiribati. Telephone: (686) 21183 or Fax: (686) 21902.
An example of healthy coral.

Diving under the surface of Kiribati

The people of Kiribati rely on healthy coral reef systems to protect the shorelines of their atolls and provide a habitat for fish that are integral not only to the food security of their own nation, but also to exports that feed the world.

The isolated nature of the atolls of Kiribati means that diving to assess the health of coral involves significant risks. There are no s

An example of healthy coral.

An example of healthy coral.

pecialised medical facilities equipped to treat dive injuries such as decompression sickness, even standard emergency facilities may be several days travel away. Divers must do their best to check each other’s equipment and wellbeing at all times.

This does not deter staff from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resource Development who are undertaking an ecosystem monitoring program to assess the health of corals in the Gilbert Islands group. Funding for these trips and new monitoring equipment has been provided by KAPII (Kiribati Adaptation Program – Pilot Implementation Phase II), a project that aims to reduce Kiribati’s vulnerability to climate change, climate variability and sea level rise through adaptation.

Aranteiti Tekiau, a research officer at the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resource Development, has recently returned from a trip to the outer islands of Tamana and Tabiteuea North. What he saw whilst diving is causing him great concern. “Unfortunately we found serious coral bleaching at Tamana. The people on the outer islands may not notice it or see what it is. But it definitely has an impact on their lives and getting what they need from the ocean.”

“If coral health is declining fish abundance will decline as well. This is our main source of food and where we get our protein from. In Kiribati it is especially important that our coral is healthy,” stresses Mr. Tekiau.

This reliance on fish cannot be overstated. Each i-Kiribati is estimated to eat somewhere between 72kg and 207kg of seafood every year. Kiribati also encompasses the largest exclusive economic zone in the Pacific with over 3.5 million square kilometers of ocean and fisheries that are estimated to be worth more than US$150 million annually to the international market.

Ribwanataake Awira, the secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resource Development, speaks from the big picture perspective. “The overall trend that we are experiencing right now is the change in climate. That is the real concern as we live very close to our environment here.”

Bleached coral - 300dpi photo - Dr Simon Donner

An example of bleached coral.

Mr. Awira fears that “an increase in temperature is one of the major factors that will affect the coral as we know it. Even if there is only an increase by 1 degree it will start to die off. That is what we are worried about now, especially in areas like Kiribati where we depend entirely on the growth and health of the reefs.”

One strategy the Government of Kiribati can consider is creating Marine Protected Areas where healthy coral reefs that have resisted bleaching are located. The creation of these areas may be able to increase the resilience of surrounding reefs. Through increased monitoring operations the identification of areas suitable for protection becomes possible. To do this effectively requires a great deal of equipment, something not always easily accessible in least developed countries.

The KAPII project has provided a range of items to the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resource Development including regulators, scanners, scuba tanks, software, weight belts, underwater digital cameras and slates for data collection.

Mr. Awira is grateful for the capability the new equipment brings to his ministry. “To do this type of visual assessment work we require scuba gear to continue monitoring the growth of corals. The official handing over of the equipment will enhance the capacity of our staff to maintain this level of monitoring. It will help a lot.”

There are many stories about the impressive diving ability of the i-Kiribati, with or without equipment. Mr. Tekiau has seen it himself. “It is not a lie. Kiribati people have their own way of diving without scuba gear. I have often seen people here free dive for much longer than five minutes!”

The ecosystem monitoring team has four more KAPII dives this year on Abaiang, Abemama, Butaritari islands and in the Tarawa lagoon, as well as ongoing monitoring projects beyond KAPII. We wish them the best of luck in their important work.