News Reef Resilience

Palau’s Rock Islands Southern Lagoon launches resilience strategy

Photo Credit: Ocean Image Bank // Michael Aw

The Rock Islands Southern Lagoon in Palau launched its first comprehensive resilience strategy that aims at providing a sustainable future for both its people and its natural environment. Implementation of the strategy has already begun with the launch of four projects, valued at USD$620,000, each addressing crucial resilience challenges for the marine World Heritage site.

The resilience strategy for the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon in Palau has been designed over the span of two years in a collaborative effort between the local management authority and the local community, and with the close involvement of non-governmental organisations and scientists. The strategy was developed through both analysing data on the health and challenges facing the coral reef system in the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, and the dependence of its communities on the reef’s resources for their livelihoods.

Previous plans had suffered lack of funding for implementation and limited integration with other management efforts for the reef and communities. The newly released resilience strategy overcomes these obstacles by clearly outlining how each resilience action contributes towards implementation goals across other key reef conservation plans and policies. The first phase of the strategy’s implementation has started and focuses on the preservation of cultural and historical sites and practices, sustainable fisheries management, the optimisation of existing finance mechanisms for conservation and identification of new ones, and building institutional capacity for adaptive management.

To support the development and realization of the strategy and its goals, the Resilient Reefs Initiative has allocated resources for a full-time Chief Resilience Officer embedded within the Koror State Government and a Resilience Advisor at the Palau Conservation Society. The initiative has also extended substantial technical support through a network of formal and informal partners.

The Rock Islands Southern Lagoon is home to a magnificent coral reef, endemic marine species and wildlife but also the cultural and historical relation of the community to the reef deeply rooted in our Palauan identity.” – Andrea Uchel, Chief Resilience Officer for the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon World Heritage site

Tangible results from the Resilient Reefs Initiative are already manifesting in Palau, particularly in the application of traditional knowledge to guide coastal fisheries management planning in the lagoon. In 2021, the local management authority adopted its coastal fisheries management plan, a blueprint for restoring reef fish and invertebrate populations, promoting sustainable harvesting in harmony with robust ecosystems, and ensuring the enduring well-being of the Koror community through its coastal fisheries.

Initiated by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, Resilient Reefs is a collaboration with UNESCO, The Nature Conservancy’s Reef Resilience Network, Columbia University’s Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes, Resilient Cities Catalyst, and AECOM. The program is funded by the BHP Foundation.


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