MacArthur has announced 15 grants totaling more than $4 million to help protect the marine ecosystems of Melanesia, a region of 1,600 islands that stretch 3,000 miles across the South Pacific.

This work is supported through the Conservation and Sustainable Development area of the Foundation's Program on Global Security and Sustainability. Grantmaking focuses on preserving the biodiversity of living organisms and maintaining tropical ecosystems, which are home to some of the worlds most diverse natural communities and critically endangered species. The Foundation provides support to help create and manage parks and marine areas, increase the skills of local governmental and non-governmental institutions and individuals, and strengthen environmental law and policy.  In addition to traditional conservation focused on protected areas, the Foundation seeks to address both economic and conservation needs by promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and helping the local population manage the biodiversity on which they depend for their livelihoods.

The Foundation has been providing support for conservation and sustainable development efforts in Melanesia since 2000. With the goal of preserving Melanesias rich marine sector, funding has been geared towards strengthening local management of marine resources and promoting sustainable fisheries.

The Foundation provides support for efforts in nine ecological focal regions around the world. They include: Melanesia, the Eastern Himalaya, and the Lower Mekong in Asia and the Pacific Rim; Madagascar, the Albertine Rift, and the Lower Guinean Forest in Africa; and the Northern Andes, Southern Andes, and Insular Caribbean in Latin America and the Caribbean.

MacArthur also provides further support for conservation work in the worlds most biologically rich yet threatened areas through its funding of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). CEPF is a joint initiative of the MacArthur Foundation, Conservation International, the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility, and the Government of Japan. It aims to advance conservation of the earths most vulnerable ecosystems by providing support to nongovernmental, community and grassroots organizations.

MacArthur's support for conservation in the Pacific islands of Melanesia is focused on helping local communities manage their natural marine resources and cultivate sustainable harvesting practices for the aquarium fish trade in their protected reefs, a major source of income for the communities, said Jonathan Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation. Because of traditional land and sea rights that govern most of the countries of Melanesia, nearly all of the natural resources of the islands are controlled by the communities themselves. This means conservation efforts must focus on strengthening local organizations and promoting national and regional policies that help communities preserve their marine resources for future generations.

MacArthur's conservation and sustainable development grantmaking in Melanesia is designed to help promote Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs)networks of local communities that work together on conservation effortsand to support sustainable fisheries for the aquarium fish trade. Grants are made to help train LMMAs in conservation techniques and practices and for efforts to help them better coordinate and share lessons learned with neighboring communities.

GRANT RECIPIENTS:
Seven grants totaling $1,535,000 have been made to support site-based work as part of the Locally Managed Marine Area Networks.

The World Wildlife Fund South Pacific Programme received $400,000 over three years to work with local groups and governments to help preserve the coal reef habitats at Madang Lagoon in Papua New Guinea, in the western region of the Solomon Islands, and in the offshore islands of Fiji.

A grant of $300,000 over three years was awarded to The Nature Conservancy to help establish a network of marine protected areas in the Solomon Islands.

Partners in Community Development Fiji received a grant of $210,000 over three years to work with local fishing communities in Fiji to help combat destructive fishing and over-harvesting practices.

The University of Queensland received a grant of $200,000 over two years to help the local communities around the Marovo Lagoon in the Solomon Islands one of the worlds best defined and largest double barrier enclosed lagoons in the worldpromote the protection and sustainable management of the lagoon.

A grant of $210,000 over three years was awarded to Wetlands International to study how LMMAs operate across a series of sites on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea.

The South Pacific Regional Environment Programme was awarded a grant of $115,000 over two years to work with coastal communities in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to develop and improve small, community-based commercial harvesting enterprises as a means of balancing the economic needs of the communities with the desire to preserve their resources for generations to come.

Mahonia na Dari received a grant of $100,000 over two years to expand the use of LMMAs in conserving the reefs of Kimbe Bay, located on the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea.

Three grants totaling $1,150,000 have been made to help improve the technical skills and coordination among the LMMA Network in Melanesia.

A grant of $800,000 over three years was made to the University of the South Pacific to support the central coordination and technical needs for the LMMA Network to effectively carry out community conservation projects.

The Community Conservation Network received a grant of $200,000 over three years to work with the University of the South Pacific to provide technical assistance to the community groups and evaluate the effectiveness of the projects.

SeaWeb, an project that uses radio for training purposes, was awarded $150,000 over three years to help nongovernmental organizations, scientists, members of the media, and community practitioners better communicate and coordinate with each other to more effectively carry out marine conservation projects in Fiji.

Two grants totaling $425,000 have been awarded to provide legal and technical guidance to local communities in Papua New Guinea so they can assert their traditional land tenure rights to manage their commonly owned resources.

The Sydney, Australia-based Environmental Defenders Office Ltd. received a grant of $225,000 over three years, and the Papua New Guinea-based non-profit public interest law group, Center for Environmental Law and Community Rights, received $200,000 over three years to help local communities in Papua New Guinea keep abreast of the impact that industrial logging, mining, fish processing and oil palm development can have on their land and marine holdings.

MacArthur has also made three grants totaling $975,000 to help support sustainable fishing practices in Melanesia.

Marine Aquarium Council received $495,000 over three years to help local communities and private industry in Melanesia adhere to standards of best practice and reef management in the harvesting of marine aquarium fish and corals for international trade.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community received a grant of $300,000 over three years to help the governments of the South Pacific Island states develop sound fisheries management plans in the trade of live fish.

A grant of $180,000 over three years was awarded to the University of California at Los Angeles/ReefCheck to build a database to monitor fishing practices and reef health in Melanesia.

Conservation & Sustainable Development, Conservation