Under CEPF's Small Grant program for the East Melanesian Islands, the Vanuatu Environmental Science Society (VESS) is working to establish itself as Vanuatu’s first national CBO dedicated to the promotion of science in conservation.
Through the provision of organizational capacity building, VESS is producing various policy and procedures documents, which will be vital to the long-term functioning of the organization. A number of activities are now taking place as a result of the establishment of VESS. A regular series of public talks has been put in place, with presentations provided on environmental topics such as Vanuatu’s threatened species, the importance of seagrass beds, and the management of crown of thorns starfish. As part of community outreach programmes, VESS partnered with the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation to host several activities for National Environment week. For example, a rubbish clean-up was carried out, with an associated litter survey – these activities not only generate data, which can be used to demonstrate the problem and track it over time, but they are also inclusive; everyone can participate in the data collection.
VESS has also formed a Student Conservation Club. Students have been assisting VESS with the development of educational materials. Information has been gathered about threatened species in Vanuatu, and this will be included in games for school children featuring six threatened species. Posters have been designed for awarenes- raising about dugong and seagrass conservation - these posters were given out at the launch of the GEF-funded Dugong and Seagrass conservation Project that VESS is implementing. The posters will go back to the communities and increase their knowledge about one of Vanuatu’s most iconic wild animals.
Further information on the current activities of VESS can be found here.