Past Programs: Laying the Foundation for Success
PCS has developed and presented many factual and timely public awareness programs that included community events, school visits, field trips, television and radio programs, and a variety of print materials.
The 1994 debut project of PCS was the Biib Environmental Awareness Project, an intensive campaign supported by the RARE Center for Tropical Conservation. The one-year campaign focused on the Biib, Palau’s endemic fruit dove and candidate for national bird. Using puppet shows, posters, billboards, music videos, and other media, the campaign highlighted the values of the biib and the environment on which the bird depends. The campaign touched virtually every schoolchild in Palau and measurably increased the public’s awareness of environmental issues and values.
In 1997, with support from the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the British government, PCS undertook a similar and successful campaign focused on the endangered dugong.
PCS conducted community-based marine and terrestrial scientific research to contribute to a greater understanding of Palau’s ecosystems, social perceptions, and to determine appropriate techniques of ecological management. Past research focused on identifying inshore fishing practices, needs, and concerns; quantifying local perceptions of conservation; and identifying bird habitats and populations. PCS also participated in resource assessments and resource management needs assessments.
In collaboration with the University of Guam and the government of Palau with support from the Japan Fund for Global Environment, PCS coordinated the Coral Reef Monitoring Project with the purpose of documenting baseline levels of sedimentation on Palau’s reefs so that future impacts of physical development can be detected and mitigated. The Nature Conservancy and the Forum Fisheries Agency supported the Grouper Aggregation Monitoring Project led by PCS collaborator Dr. Robert Johannes. Under contract from the government of Palau, PCS collaborated with scientists from UCLA and the Australian Institute of Marine Science to conduct a Study of Water Circulation in Malakal Harbor in order to assess the fate and effects of sewage effluent entering Palau’s main harbor.
The Inshore Sportfishing Development Project, supported by the U.S. government, was a collaborative project between PCS, The Nature Conservancy, and the Palau government. The aim of the project was to conserve and make the best use of the diversity and abundance of Palau’s reef fishes by developing a community-based sportfishing industry.
With support from the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund of Japan and the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, PCS has assisted Koror and Peleliu States in the management of their marine resources in the world-renowned Rock Islands. Projects included preparation of a plan for the Management of Ngerumekaol, an important fish spawning aggregation site, and preparation of the Peleliu State Conservation Strategy.
PCS undertook the Ngemelis Tourism Management Project, with the aim of improving management of Palau’s diving industry. Assistance from the Wallis Foundation made it possible for PCS to also examine the impacts of the booming Taiwanese tourism and produced the Palau’s Taiwanese Tourism Industry: Assessment of Issues and Suggestions for the Future Report. With support from the World Resources Institute and in collaboration with research partners in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Japan, PCS undertook a Benefits Analysis of Palau’s Tuna Fisheries. The aim was to provide the information necessary to make decisions about alternative uses of Palau’s valuable offshore fisheries resources.
PCS was instrumental in the development of the famous Jellyfish Lake as a tourist destination. Working in partnership with Koror State and RARE Center for Tropical Conservation, PCS installed a nature trail with educational signboards, floating docks both inside and outside the lake, and provided composting toilets. Jellyfish Lake has since become one of Palau’s most popular tourist destinations.
Funding from the Packard Foundation enabled PCS to assist several of Palau’s state governments in the establishment and management of conservation areas in key marine and terrestrial areas, including remote Ngeruangel atoll in Kayangel, Ngemelis Island in Koror, Ngemai reef in Ngiwal, and Ngardok Lake and watershed in Melekeok. The Packard Foundation also funded PCS’ assessment of Palau’s reef fish fishery. With support of the MacArthur Foundation, PCS began assisting several communities with conservation area management and land use planning.
All of PCS’ education, research, and management activities have the ultimate goal of contributing towards sustainable development policies at the national and state levels. The timely provision of relevant information on the state of Palau’s natural resources to Palau’s local and national leaders has always been a priority.
Identifying Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
PCS worked with partners to identify and protect sites with unique biodiversity on land, starting by identifying areas important to birds. PCS led field work to identify bird habitats and to quantify the populations of Palau’s endangered, endemic, and resident birds. Through this work, PCS and partners identified eight Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and many other terrestrial and marine sites. Learn more about Palau's IBAs.
In 2004 there are 21 conservation areas in Palau. Activities were often targeted at improving management of existing and new conservation areas, and PCS worked with communities to implement community-based management and monitoring protocols. PCS originally started working with marine conservation areas but in 2003 expanded its focus to include new terrestrial conservation areas. The passage of the Protected Areas Network Act of 2003 was also a critical step towards comprehensive protection of all of Palau’s critical sites.
Terrestrial Resource Management
Formed by volcanic activity 70 million years ago, Babeldaob is the largest island in Palau and the second largest in Micronesia. Fifty-five percent of Palau’s one thousand historical and cultural sites are located in Babeldaob. The island is also home to one of Micronesia’s largest undisturbed forests.
Until recently, Babeldaob was isolated from the encroachment of modern development. However, construction of a major roadway (the “Compact Road”) completed in 2008 has opened up Babeldaob to increased development and potential associated degrading activities such as soil erosion and sedimentation. In response, PCS and its partners started working to minimize the potential impacts from future development projects and destructive activities and began helping communities identify priority sites for conservation.
Download PCS’s 2004-2007 Terrestrial Strategy
Community Visioning and Land Use Planning
PCS began promoting the development and implementation of local Land Use Planning to ensure that development occurs in a sustainable manner through the Community Visioning project. Community-based Facilitators were trained in leading their communities through the process of drafting and adopting a Vision Statement and Strategic Plan for their states. PCS worked to gain national and developer-level support for these Community Vision Statements.
Ngardok Nature Reserve
Melekeok State, with the technical assistance of PCS and other partners, established the Ngardok Nature Reserve, containing Lake Ngardok and its watershed. Lake Ngardok is the largest natural freshwater lake in all of Micronesia. Lake Ngardok was named a Ramsar Site in 2002 for being a Wetland of International Importance. The reserve’s lake, wetlands, and upland forest provide habitat for plants, wildlife, and birds some of which are found only in Palau. The reserve is also home to the endangered saltwater crocodile and Grey Duck.
Ngerikiil Watershed Management
PCS found out early that all of its efforts from land use to conservation area planning were more effective when conducted on an ecosystem or watershed scale, rather than according to political boundaries. The Ngerikiil Watershed is the water source for Koror and Airai, and thus serves 75% of Palau’s population. PCS worked with the Airai State Working Group and other partners to protect and restore the Ngerikiil River watershed.
Marine Resource Management
Palau is famous for its underwater splendor, which forms the basis for both Palau’s culture and economy. Protection and sustainable management of marine resources is critical for Palau’s future. PCS’s early work was focused on our marine environment.
Download PCS’s 2004-2007 Marine Strategy
Palau’s northern reef systems have always flourished with an amazing diversity of fish, sea turtles, and other marine life. The abundant resources of the northern reefs have fed the people of Kayangel and Ngarchelong States for centuries. Kayangel’s Ngeruangel Reserve has been designated as a no-take and no-entry conservation area. PCS assisted with monitoring for several years. The Northern Reef Channels contain eight reefs between Ngarchelong and Kayangel States. National and traditional leaders of Ngarchelong declared a joint fishing moratorium, restricting all fishing activities in the Northern Reef Channels during spawning season. With the help of PCS, Ngarchelong State established the Ebiil Conservation Area to protect Ebiil Channel, one of the most important grouper aggregation sites in Palau.
Koror State and the Famous Rock Islands
Palau is famous for its Rock Islands, which are managed by Koror State under a management plan. PCS contributed to the Rock Island Southern Lagoon Management Plan. Click here to learn more.
Marine tourism remains one of Palau’s largest industries, and PCS has been involved in a number of projects designed to reduce the impacts of tourists. One project was the development of a Tour Guide Training Program, complete with manuals and training videos. Another project, with the partner organization CORAL Reef Alliance, encouraged the tour industry to implement sustainable use of resources through self-governance.
Sea Turtle Research and Education
The endangered Green Sea Turtle and the threatened Hawksbill Sea Turtle both nest and live in Palau. Sea Turtles are an important part of Palau’s culture and diet, and have traditionally been used in a sustainable manner. However, the advent of modern power engines and fishing gear along with changes in the traditional value system has led to an increase in turtle harvesting, threatening their populations. PCS worked with partners to implement a research program to track turtle populations movements, and implemented an education program designed to encourage a moratorium on turtle takings.
"A Uel a Sechelid" Campaign (Turtles are Our Friends)
PCS, with support from the RARE Center for Tropical Conservation, created an educational and entertaining campaign to raise awareness of sea turtles and turtle conservation. This award-winning campaign (winner of the 2002 PATA Gold Award for Environmental Education) featured interactive school visits complete with music and costumes and targeted lobbying of traditional groups.
All of PCS’s actions have a specific goal of raising the capacity of communities to manage their own resources. Many skills are transferred through working side by side in the field. PCS also sponsored targeted training events. Past trainings have focused on training for Community Visioning Facilitators, methods of bird surveys, and dive certification for residents of the Northern Reef States.
In order to lay the foundation for watershed based resource management, PCS began implementing a watershed education program. PCS has seen a marked increase in the basic understanding of watershed management through this program.
PCS has established close relationships with Palau’s states and communities. Much of this was accomplished through community visits. PCS staff traveled to other states and often stayed for days at a time, meeting with community members in order to achieve real understanding and communication between the two.