Governor Henaro Polloi signs the MOU with Coral Reef Research Foundation to support capacity building among MCN staff and the resurvey field work of the ForestGEO monitoring plot, with funds provided by UDSA Forest Service. L to R: (front) Pat Colin, Director CRRF; Governor Polloi, Melekeok State; (back) Gerda Ucharm, Research Biologist CRRF; Dearlynn Rebluud, Program Manager, MCN.

On Thursday December 16th a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Melekeok Conservation Network (MCN) and the Coral Reef Research Foundation (CRRF), with funding provided by the USDA Forest Service, to support capacity building among MCN staff in forest monitoring techniques, as well as conduct the resurvey field work within the ForestGEO monitoring plot. Near Ngardok Lake in Melekeok State is an area of dense forest which is under detailed examination as part of a global program aimed at assessing changes in forests worldwide. The forest plot is one part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO) program. The Melekeok site is one of 80 forest study areas worldwide, but the only one in an island setting in the western Pacific region. The plot was initially surveyed in 2017, and in 2022 a complete repeat survey, including all trees within the area, will be carried out. Rounding out the overall team involved in carrying out the program are the Palau Division of Forests, Land, and Water Management, and the USDA Forest Service’s Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry. The MOU will support the MCN to conduct the forest monitoring efforts within the reserve, expand greenhouse operations needed for forest restoration, wildfire prevention activities, and support operations needed for resource protection within MCN. The USDA Forest Service and CRRF have been long-time partners with MCN from its inception as a protected area through the regular forest monitoring and weather data collection. Overall Melekeok State and partners have worked on a wide range of activities spanning wildfire prevention, forest conservation education and outreach, greenhouse training, arboriculture training, savanna restoration, community agroforestry, erosion control, and orchid conservation. The Coral Reef Research Foundation, USDA Forest Service, and Melekeok State look forward to a continued partnership through this MOU to help achieve the management goals of the Melekeok Conservation Network.

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