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      Biosphere Reserve Information

Fed.States of Micronesia


  General Description   The Utwe Biosphere Reserve is located on the south-west of Kosrae, a small mountainous volcanic island in the South Pacific. The Biosphere Reserve is located on the relatively flat and narrow coastal plain extending from the foothills to the shore. Most of the interior of the island is rough and rugged. Mangrove swamps and coral reefs surround most of the island. According to the Division of Fisheries, over 335 species of fish have been recorded as well as 180 coral species (13 soft coral and over 150 hard coral species). Other ecosystem types in the Biosphere Reserve include tropical rain forest, wetland forest, sea grass beds and marine lakes. The wetland forest has different kinds of green ferns, and also harbours the only remaining stand of Ka trees (Terminalia carolinesis) in the world.

Isolated by more than 300 nautical miles from its nearest neighbour, Kosrae has been little influenced by modern development and industry. However, as any other States within the Federated States of Micronesia, Kosrae’s marine resources are being depleted and some marine species such as turtles, lobsters, corals, and giant clams are endangered. The core area, which is mainly composed of mangrove and marine areas, has been designated with the main objective to protect the area thus prohibiting any human activities including harvesting of natural resources. The terrestrial buffer zone protects the core area against external pressures and the marine buffer zone is protected as a no-take zone. The people living in Utwe use the transition area for agricultural activities, tourism, fishing and harvesting of natural resources, and settlements. It is to a great extent protected from destructive activities by the 'Land Use Plan' and sustainable development programs are promoted here.

There are four different villages on the island with some 1000 inhabitants of Kosraean ethnic origin. The biosphere reserve has 24 different archaeological sites such as the Menka Ruins, which was said to belong to the goddess Sinlaku, the Queen of Nature. There are also some known shipwrecks within the biosphere reserve such as the William “bully” Hayes ship, belonging to a legendary 19th century pirate. The core, buffer, and transition core areas are managed by land use regulations and the Marine Resources Act 2000. The implementation of the management plan for the biosphere reserve is the responsibility of the Office of Mayor in Utwe together with the biosphere reserve task force and group leaders in Utwe.
  Major ecosystem type   Tropical rain forest; wetland forest; mangroves; seagrass systems; and coral reefs.
  Major habitats & land cover types   Tropical rain forest mainly covered by bushes and woodland; Agroforests with a mixture of forest, native and introduced plants, farms and plantations with coconut palms, breadfruit trees, giant banyans, cane grass etc.; Mangrove forest characterized by Xylocarpus granatum, Rhizophora sp., Nypa fruiticans, Barringtonia sp., Sonneratia alba, Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, and Lumnitzera littorea; Seagrass beds with Sementocea sp., Thelesia sp., and Enalus sp.; Wetland forest dominated by Ka (Terminalia carolinesis), Nunu (Horsefieldia nunu), and Kengul (Barringtonia recemosa), Coral reefs; Marine lakes.
  Location   5°16’13”N; 162°57’27”E (Central point)
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   1,773
  Core area(s)   96.4 (of which marine: 96.4)
  Buffer zone(s)   517.2 (of which marine: 406.6)
  Transition area(s) when given   1159 (of which marine: 607.5)
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   -18.3 to +10
  Year designated   2005
  Administrative authorities   Kosrae Conservation and Safety Organization, reporting to Utwe Municipal Government, Kosrae State Legislature, Kosrae State Marine Resources, and Office of the Governor
  Brief description   The main conservation objective is to prohibit any human activities including harvesting of natural resources in the marine core area. The well-preserved forests in the buffer zone function as a buffer to the core area against the pressure in the upland forests. The marine buffer zone also encircles the core area and protects it as a no-take zone. The people living in Utwe use the transition area for agricultural activities, human settlements and tourism. It is to a great extent protected from destructive activities by the 'Land Use Plan' and thus, sustainable development programs are promoted here. The marine transition area enables the people in the community to undertake fishing activities.

No current research and monitoring activities in the biosphere reserve. Planned activities include research/monitoring on pH of water and hydrology; biodiversity of corals and fish; fish aggregation sites; movement of fish and other marine organisms; tourism planning; economic impacts on residents living in the vicinity of the Biosphere Reserve; continued community awareness programs.
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   n.a.
  Biodiversity   n.a.
  Socio-economic   n.a.
  Integrated monitoring   n.a.
  Contact address    
Kosrae Conservation and Safety Organization
Box 1007
Fed.States of Micronesia
  Telephone   (691) 3703673
  Fax   (691) 3703000

Last updated: 07/04/2006

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