Restoring island homes - the fighting spirit

10 May 2010 | News story

The Republic of Nauru is one island in the Pacific that has been actively fighting to regain their island biodiversity following a decade of mining.

The scenario is devastating, after years of unsustainable phosphate mining on almost 80% of the land area on the small rock island of Nauru. The impacts are tremendous – affecting all ecosystems, wreaking havoc on terrestrial resources, and impacting upon people’s health and livelihoods. For an island where the main source of revenue is mining, the issue of the environment and biodiversity is yet to receive the attention it deserves. But despite the condition of the island’s environment, it is encouraging to see the fighting spirit of the Nauruans as they toil one step at a time towards a better environment for their future generations.

As a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity the government of Nauru will soon produce its first National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan (NBSAP) after nearly four years of being in the pipeline. Titled ‘Rehabilitate and Conserve’ the first draft of the action plan is now under review and is expected to be finalized in June this year. The NBSAP promises to provide a foundation for future rehabilitation and conservation work for Nauru and will seek to coordinate various efforts by government, non-government organizations and other stakeholders.

The Nauru Rehabilitation Corporation is one of the organizations on the steering committee of the NBSAP and very actively involved in the rehabilitation of the island. With a five year plan in place, work has been on-going to rehabilitate mined land areas with indigenous plant species. Nurseries have been set up specifically for this purpose with about 1000 seedlings grown. Replanting of these indigenous plant species is envisaged for 2013 once secondary mining has been completed and land areas leveled and filled with soil. Other activities for the corporation include the setting up of a waste management site which is already active and aims to gather organic material for the rehabilitation project. Work is progressing slowly but surely. The formal adoption of the NBSAP will ensure the alignment of the activities with national targets and create opportunities for future partnerships.

Nauru is one of the newest members of IUCN, having joined in November 2009. IUCN welcomes the opportunity to work with the Government of Nauru to assist in the process of ecosystem rehabilitation. The picture is clear, nature is inextricably linked to people’s future and livelihoods, and IUCN will continue to push this agenda and work with its members and regional partners to ensure the environment supports sustainable futures for our Pacific people.