Community-based Watershed Planning and Management on the Island of Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

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"Pohnpei is a volcanic island located in the Western tropical Pacific (land area 129 sq. mi.). The island is surrounded by an extensive barrier reef and coastal areas are bordered by mangrove forest. The mountainous interior is heavily forested with the main overstorey trees being Campnosperma brevipetiolata and Eleocarpus carolinensis. Large almost pure stands of the endemic palm Clinostigma ponapensis are also found at higher elevations. In 1987 the Pohnpei state government designated a watershed reserve covering 5,100 ha. of upland forest and 5,525 ha. of mangrove. Early on there was considerable resistance by communities and resources users to state 'enclosure' of upland areas as reserve where access and use of resources would be regulated. This led to the formation in 1990 of an inter-agency Watershed Steering Committee which began developing a community based approach. With some external assistance the Committee initiated a community based education program that visited all villages on the island and worked with traditional leaders to develop consensus for the need for forest resource conservation. Some community based organizations, watershed area management committees, were formed during this process and the formation of additional organizations to cover all communities on the island is being encouraged. Clearing of forest to plant kava (Piper methysticum), a traditionally important and increasingly commercial crop, emerged as a major issue in terms of forest loss. As of 1994, with substantial assistance from the Asian Development Bank and the U.S. based private non-profit organization The Nature Conservancy, a program of community-based watershed management planning is being initiated. A team from the State Division of Forestry will work with Watershed Area Management Committees to develop management plans for local watersheds using a participatory planning approach. It is expected that local Committees will also be substantially involved in management and enforcement once the planning phase is complete. This paper reports on the progress and results of this process to date."
common pool resources, water resources, resource management, IASC