Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Coastal region and small island papers 8
Indigenous people and parks 5


Initial successes with the Moken have been encouraging and as further initiatives begin to bear fruit, the potential for the Moken project to benefit other communities, themselves faced with similar issues of sustainable small-island living, will be far reaching.

Since the workshops in 1998/1999, work has proceeded on several of the project activities. Additional reading material for elementary school children has been prepared in four languages for the Moken, Urak Lawoi and Thai children, with short texts and illustrations depicting various aspects of the Chao Layís lifestyles, including boat travel, the marine environment, important rituals and legends. These have been tested in some of the local schools, and the feedback from the teachers and students has been incorporated into the final publication. The booklets will be distributed to ten local schools attended by sea-nomad children. There have already been several requests for additions to this series.

Interdisciplinary resource assessment studies were conducted in 1999/2000 by graduate students working in the fields of marine science, forestry and anthropology. These studies covered the biological aspects of the Mokenís resource use as well as their traditional conservation practices. They also documented the Mokenís indigenous knowledge of terrestrial and marine resources. The students presented their findings to the Park Superintendent and some of the park staff in a seminar. Further resource assessments will be conducted in 2001 using carefully designed methodology to supplement the earlier studies.

Further activities scheduled for 2001 include a social survey to understand the population size and dynamics of the Moken community in the Surin Islands; an assessment of the health situation and needs of the Moken; a vocational training workshop to enhance the Mokenís ability to produce good quality handicrafts based on their traditional skills, patterns and techniques; and inter-school exchanges between children from the adjacent mainland province and the Moken children. A summary of the projectís activities is included in Annex 5, together with a list of relevant articles from the ĎWise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Developmentí forum.

This project, dealing as it does with sustainable small-island living, complements several other CSI field projects. For instance it is envisaged that the series of school primers produced for the children in the region will engender a sense of pride in their culture and heritage. Activities of this kind have a potential application to a project focusing on the traditional landowners of the National Capital District of Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, the Motu Koitabu, who are facing marginalization as a result of the cityís growth. Linkages with other CSI projects, such as the sustainable use of mangrove resources in Samoa, and the documentation of indigenous fishersí knowledge in Haiti are avenues yet to be fully explored.

Furthermore, finding sustainable solutions that benefit indigenous communities, the environment, as well as national tourism and development objectives, has become a priority in the region and many other parts of the world as well. It is envisaged that this project will not only help elaborate sustainable development options for the Moken and contribute to the conservation of the Surin Islands, but will also serve as a model for the region and beyond.

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