Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai‘i

Monitoring program to track 149 species

By Bernadette H. Carreon
KOROR (Palau Horizon, July 14, 2010) - Palau is getting assistance from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Enviornment Programme (SPREP) to save endangered bird species in the island-nation.

During the thirteenth meeting of the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation in Apia this week, BirdLife International presented a compendium of Important Bird Areas in the Pacific, to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

Australia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Palau, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Samoa are the SPREP members featured in the compendium with studies now underway to highlight the Important Bird Areas in the Cook Islands.

Bird Life International’s Pacific Programme Director Don Stewart in a statement said, "This is just the first stage in doing something to address the crisis facing the birds and biodiversity, the second stage is to use those sites that are demonstrated to be vital for bird and biodiversity conservation to actually start conservation action on the ground."

The compendium of Important Bird Areas for seven of the SPREP member countries has taken over four years to complete.

The compendium will assist and guide bird conservation programs in the Pacific to recover the population of birds that are now on the verge of extinction.

Now that BirdLife International has highlighted some of the important bird areas in the Pacific region, work is underway to assist the formation of conservation areas to help the bird numbers grow, Stewart said in a statement.

There are a total of 149 bird species in Palau.

In May, an executive order was issued creating a bird monitoring program for Palau to help preserve Palauan culture by protecting species from extinction.

Executive Order No. 280 establishes a National Program for Monitoring Forest and Coastal Birds.

For National Program for Monitoring Forest and Coastal Birds, permanent stations on Babeldaob Island will be designated for the monitoring of forest and coastal bird populations. Monthly monitoring will be done at designated sentinel stations to collect population and ecosystem data, including the monitoring of indicator species such as the Palau Fruit-Dove and Micronesian Imperial-Pigeon which are highly valued for the role they play in Palauan legends and traditions.

Scientific data obtained from the monthly monitoring activity for indications of ecosystem change, bird population trends and other information will be analyzed. Other ecosystem-based management activities will also be done from time to time.

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