Mangrove ecosystems in Vanuatu are an integral part of the ni-Vanuatu lifestyle. They are valued for the many goods and services they provide, including timber for housing, canoes and fuel wood, and crabs and fishes that generate income and food security. Vanuatu has only about 2,500ha of mangroves, with nearly 2,000ha found in eastern Malekula. The remainder exists in small stands of 15-210ha on other islands such as Efate, Santo, Hiu, Ureparapara, Vanualava and Aniwa.
MESCAL Vanuatu aims to safeguard and adequately manage mangrove ecosystems in Vanuatu by achieving the following outcomes:
- Update the baseline information of mangroves
- Strengthen mangrove management through the development of a National Mangrove Management Plan as well as a Mangrove Management Plan for the demonstration sites
- Demonstrate the importance of mangroves for livelihoods and climate change
- Increase awareness, capacity and advocacy on the importance of mangroves
- Community education and awareness - on the value of mangroves including awareness materials by developing and updating existing mangrove IEC materials to cater for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
- Strengthen traditional resource management and governance system - traditional knowledge about mangroves ecosystem needs to be comprehensively documented to further strengthen traditional management and governance systems of mangrove ecosystems
- GIS Data on Mangroves in Vanuatu - i.e. total mangrove cover in each island, needs to be updated
- Develop a geo-referenced information system on traditional knowledge, as well as social, socio-economic and economic use information
- Establishing who the users are, how mangrove resources are used and which economic values are associated with their direct and indirect use and non-use such as cultural values is currently limited at the local and national level
The Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry all have policies for protection of mangroves and ban on the commercial use of mangroves.
Fortunately, the EIA legislation under the EPCA has recently been amended in November 2010 to ensure that no Foreshore Development permits are issued without a prior EIA. These amendments also allow for regulations to be included allowing for the introduction of mangrove specific regulations.
Despite the above efforts, currently there is no specific body & legislation that governs mangroves.
Legislation that could assist to manage mangroves include:
- Foreshore Development Act (under Internal Affairs)
- Environmental Protection and Conservation APC Act (Department of Environment) that covers EIAs that are mandated for all new developments (excluding a residential house)