Sixteen years after the Protected Areas Network (PAN) law was enacted, the PAN program has 36 protected sites,both terrestrial and marine, designated within all of the 16 States of Palau. A total of $16 million has been disbursed to the States since 2012 with over $10 million investedby PAN Fund. Over 100 individuals are employed through various State PAN programs and national PAN office.
“We have far exceeded the benchmarks we set for PAN including exceeding Micronesia Challenge mandates for total land and water set aside for conservation and hitting our endowment goal of $10 million,” expressed Minister UmiichSengebau of the Ministry of Natural Resource, Environment & Tourism.
“There are still gaps that we need to come up with ways on how to address,” added Sengebau. He said these gaps need to be addressed through a post 2020 strategy, especially looking at the sustainable financial plan for PAN.
“We need to update the financial study that was developed in 2005 to address sustainable funding for PAN. With addition of more States and sites, we need to update plans in order to continue funding the State programs,” stated Minister Sengebau.
Citing low tourism numbers this year and the effect that have had on the portion of the PPEF fund allocated to PAN, Minister Sengebau said that Palau is fortunate to have stayed withits investment strategy and financial plan which helped ensure that program continued to be funded despite shortfall in PPEF funding.
“We are able to drawdown, as allowed by law, interest income of $500,000 from our investment in the Micronesia Challenge Trust (MCT) to offset the loss we had due to lower revenue from PPEF. Out of the $18 million MCT, Palau’s share is $10 million whilst FSM and Marshall Islands have $8 million. This was possible through legislation that mandated the funds received from Green Fees from 2009 to 2012 to be invested in the MCT as part of Palau’s share. Also, Taiwan government’s generous match of $500,000 was added to that providing required match to the pledged funds from donors and these combined to raise our share in the investment to $10 million. We now can draw down half a million each year to supplement funding for PAN,” reported Sengebau of PAN’s financial status.
PAN States, PAN Office and PANF receives funding from part of the fee formerly known as Green Fee, now incorporated into PPEF, which is $15 out of $100 fee charged and supplemental funding comes from the $500k interest income from Micronesia Challenge Trust Fund.
Protected Areas Network Act was passed in 2009 but was only fully implemented in 2012 when PAN Board was finally installed. Since then, State governments have been creating their own PAN laws, designating PAN sites and getting inducted into the national PAN program. The first State to get inducted into PAN was Melekeok State and the last to get inducted into the program was Sonsorol State.