Press Release, Bairiki, Tarawa 25 July, 2013
The Environment and Conservation Division and the Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III to Increase Coastal Resilience are once again working together, this time to benefit communities in Nonouti, Tabiteuea South, Tabiteuea North and Beru. The joint project has already visited Marakei, Abaiang and Abemama to promote and undertake mangrove planting as both a mitigation and adaptation option for coastline protection and marine resource enhancement.
Communities on Marakei, Abaiang and Abemama are now working together with Government to plant mangroves and protect their own coastlines from erosion as a result of education and awareness on mangrove importance and planting carried out by the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development (MELAD), Environment and Conservation Division (ECD) and the Kiribati Adaptation Program- Phase III (KAPIII).
The$150,000, four-year mangrove project is funded by KAPIII while the implementation is undertaken by ECD. The project commenced in early 2013 and will end in 2016.
The KAPIII project continues and expands on the highly successful work on mangroves to prevent further coastal erosion in local communities under KAPII in 2010. The initial stage under KAPII worked with communities to plant mangroves in Makin, Butaritari, Maiana, Aranuka, North Tarawa and South Tarawa.
“The project is a very worthwhile project as it is a source of defense against coastal erosion and we are very fortunate to have ECD as the implementers of this project because they have a lot of passion and with their passion the project has been carried out successfully in the outer islands,” Mr. Kaitara said.
“The ECD’s role is very important and involves communicating with the community to get their commitment in mangrove planting as a ‘soft’ option source for coastal protection,” KAPIII Program Manager Kautuna Kaitara said.
“The project has been effective on the outer islands because communities have that commitment for the project, which in turn has led to the successfulness and sustainability of the project in the outer islands,” he said.
ECD Project Coordinator for Invasive Alien Species Tekimau Otiawa said the ECD emphasised to communities the importance of working together to protect their coastlines. For example, communities were encouraged to have a mangrove day to learn about and plant mangroves together as a team, she said.
“We also emphasise to schools in the outer islands to include in their activities the importance of mangroves and to have field trips to mangrove areas. To practice and understand the importance of mangrove planting at an early age is very crucial,” Ms Otiawa said.
Mr Kaitara added an informed decision has to be made with respect to the application of ‘soft’ options such as mangrove planting or ‘hard’ option like seawalls to deter coastal erosion. He explained that using the soft or hard options really depend on the outcome of the assessment of the area affected. It is common to see in our situation the application of ‘soft’ option on the lagoon side of the island and ‘hard’ option on the ocean side of the island however, there are cases that both options can be applied in the lagoon or on the ocean side of the island.
The Kiribati Adaptation Program began its third phase (KAPIII) in mid-2012. KAPIII aims to improve the resilience of Kiribati to the impacts of climate change on freshwater supply and coastal infrastructure. KAPIII’s motto is Fresh water supply. Coastal protection. Our Future.
One of KAPIII’s key components is to increase coastal resilience by using soft options such as mangrove planting or hard options such as seawalls to reduce coastal erosion and protect native habitats, which are home to important sea life such as the sea life we feed our families.
There are 4 types of Mangroves in Kiribati, namely Te Nikabubuti (White mangrove), Te Aitoa (Black mangrove), Te Tongo Buangi (Oriental mangrove) and Te Tongo (Red mangrove).
KAP III has a total cost of US$10.8million and will be financed through grants via the World Bank from Government of Australia; the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF); Japan Policy and Human Resources Development (PHRD); Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR); and in-kind contribution from the Government of Kiribati.