At a meeting in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, in December 2006, representatives of four Pacific island countries - Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Palau and Samoa - currently working on the development of biosphere reserves, formally established the Pacific Man and the Biosphere Network (PacMAB).
The meeting marked the first formal gathering of MAB Focal Points in the Pacific, signaling the interest of the region in fully participating in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves alongside other regional MAB networks.
Delegates at the meeting issued a formal statement summarizing their key decisions to:
- establish PacMAB as the MAB Network for the Pacific sub-region;
- invite other Pacific island countries to identify MAB Focal Points and new potential biosphere reserves;
- invite UNESCO to seek and provide support for the consolidation and development of the network;
- draft a two-year work plan for the network and circulate it for comments and inputs from network members within three months.
It is expected that PacMAB will expand rapidly in the coming years, as additional biosphere reserves are established in the Pacific island countries.
While early ecological studies under the MAB Programme took place in the Pacific sub-region in the 1970s, it was only in 2001, with the establishment of UNESCO's ASPACO project, that the Pacific sub-region as a whole actively engaged with the MAB Programme with a view to establishing new biosphere reserves.
Following a period of consultation and assesment of how the biosphere reserve concept could best be applied against the background of traditional land management and conservation in the sub-region, the first Pacific island biosphere reserves were established in Palau (Ngaremeduu) and the Federated States of Micronesia (Utwe) in 2005. Additional sites are currently under consideration in several other countries of the sub-region.
For further details contact: Mr. T. Schaaf, Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences