Foundations-Building Capacity

A study tour of restoration projects was conducted for seven participants from four Polynesian countries (American Samoa, Niue, Samoa and Tonga) between March 20 and 27, 2015 to Auckland, New Zealand. All participants are involved in restoration projects in their home country, most funded under the GEF-PAS "Prevention, control and management of invasive alien species in the Pacific Islands" Project. Seven restoration sites were visited, including 3 island sites and 4 mainland sites.

The Division of Environment and Conservation of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Government of Samoa (DEC-MNRE) is implementing a project as part of the Global Environment Facility - Pacific Alliance for Sustainability (GEF-PAS) Invasive Alien Species project funded by the United Nations Environment Program and executed by SPREP. The project identifies the need to determine realistic management goals and best management practices for myna species in Samoa and use them to write a management plan.

The importance of natural resources to the economy of the Pacific island region cannot be overstated. Island communities have unsurprisingly relied heavily on ocean resources for sustenance and economic activities, such as fishing and transport. Land-based resources are also vital at subsistence level, and are providing increasing development opportunities, for example through forestry and mineral mining.

The first and second editions of the Handbook, on which this Pacific version is substantially based, were prepared as a practical introduction to negotiating or working on Mulitlateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). They were prepared for people with little or no technical background in negotiations.They were also intended to function as a key reference tool for experienced negotiators. As a result the subject matter is developed at a relatively broad level.

Pacilic island countries are particularly vulnerable to the effects of invasive species. After habitat destruction or modification, invasive species are responsible for more species extinctions than any other cause. Further, the rate of extinction of native species has been higher on islands than anywhere else in the world. Invasive species have also degraded native ecosystems.

Invasive alien species are recognised as one of the leading threats to biodiversity and also impose enormous costs on agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and other human enterprises, as well as on human health. Rapidly accelerating human trade, tourism, transport, and travel over the past century have dramatically enhanced the spread of invasive species, allowing them to surmount natural geographic barriers. Not all non-indigenous species are harmful. In fact the majority of species used in agriculture, forestry and fisheries are alien species.