In 2020, OneReef formalized its Community Partnership Agreement with the five communities that manage Nanwap MPA. Shortly after that, MLMDA, a collaborative organization that the communities had created to help manage Nanwap, was revived, and a fundraising effort was launched. In our experience working with communities to manage MPAs, initiatives like these are a crucial success factor. Even so, we were taken by surprise at the speed with which the communities achieved their ambitious goal.
For centuries, Pohnpeians used traditional complex systems to protect their natural resources. These strict rules governed all clans’ behavior and ensured that Pohnpei's rich coral reefs, mangroves, and forests provided food and economic livelihood to sustain themselves and future generations. Traditional resource management systems and stewardship systems have been diluted by modern approaches to regulate resource use and management. Modern approaches have also undermined the authority of indigenous communities to control their resources. Consequently, many traditional mangrove ecosystems have been lost and destroyed due to unsustainable harvesting and development practices and notable climate change impacts. On November 17th, traditional leaders made themselves heard!