Addressing the mangrove challenge: Interview with Dr. Milika Sobey

28 March 2013 | Audio

Mangrove management in the Pacific has its unique challenges. Dr. Milika Sobey talks about these challenges and how IUCN's MESCAL project is helping to provide solutions.

Dr. Milika Sobey is the Water & Wetlands Coordinator for IUCN Oceania, and also manages the Mangrove Ecosystems for Climate change Adaptation and Livelihoods (MESCAL) project being implemented in five Pacific Island Countries. MESCAL focuses on addressing key challenges of mangrove management by using an adaptive co-management approach and improving baseline knowledge and management capacity.

Q. With today's growing population, economic pressures and climate change impacts, it seems that proper and sustainable management of mangroves is difficult to achieve. What are the challenges for Pacific Island Countries?

Q. What challenges have you encountered in implementing the MESCAL project?

Q. How is the MESCAL Project helping to improve mangrove management in the five countries?

Q. What approach(es) is (are) working in the Pacific to improve mangrove management?

Through my experiences, working with the governments works. Its given the MESCAL project more credibility, more clout, its allowed for government ownership and collaboration between the different government departments. A lot of other projects go through the communities and they have their successes as well. I think once you get recognition, and once its taken on board at the top level it really adds to the credibility and the momentum. Having senior level involvement really helps to improve the profile and also the outputs of the project. For example here in Fiji, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Lands is now the Chair for the Mangrove Management Committee and that has been a big boost for the project.

Q. Despite the challenges, what are the rewards in this type of work?

Seeing the enthusiasm within each country for their mangroves - they've discovered more species and more mangroves than they thought they had - that enthusiasm for mangrove resources and creating awareness and just taking ownership of it is a reward for me. Also just seeing the capacity of local countries to do their own surveys and to be able analyse their own data, and that they aren't relying so much on external consultants doing it for them.

For more information contact Dr. Milika Sobey at milika.sobey@iucn.org