“the bottom line is, ke de ousbech e mengedmokl e le ngdiak el klokled” said Reklai Raphael BaoNgirmang  to the managers and conservation personnel during the 3-day  PAN Effective Management and Leadership protected areas workshop which was held on July 16 – 18, 2019 at PICRC.  Workshop participants welcomed by the Executive Director of Palau Conservation Society, Bola Majekobaje and opened by Chairperson of the Palau International Coral Reef Center Board of Directors Noah Idechong.

In his opening statement, Mr. Idechong brought historical context from Palau’s traditional tenure of resources to the making of Palau’s Constitution transforming resource tenure. This went from traditional to modern as Palau entered into a democratic constitution government.  From a time when unsustainable and destructive fishing practices became rampant, leading to local concerns and local action. The power, funding, and enforcement were taken away from Palau’s traditional leaders, But the wisdom, passion, duty, and the sense of responsibility remained in their hearts and could not be taken away.  Mr. Idechong reminded the participants that their work at the PAN workshop is keeping true to Palau’s vision and Constitution.

Furthermore, the PAN framework allows for an innovative way to continue conservation in a formal and meaningful manner that is sustainably supported.  Other resource speakers included representatives who implemented the various relevant policies in climate change  are X. Erbai Matsutaro, Sustainable Land Management Policy by Leena Mesebeluu, the National Biodiversity Action Plan by Gwen Sisior, the PAN by Joyce Beouch, and from the National Environment Policy Council represented by Executive Officer of EQPB Roxanne S. Blesam.  Resource status updates on coral reefs and birds were provided by the PICRC and PCS.  These sessions extend to the overall national context in which state efforts in management of state protected areas are in alignment with and making direct contributions for Palau to meet its regional and international commitments.

The workshop was uplifted in a leadership session with Director Andrew Tabelual from the Ministry of Education.  “Do not confuse managing and supervising as leadership.  Leadership is building on the potential of your staff and cultivating individuals from within”.  With leadearship, its’ either you are kladitm or klaskokl, there is no such thing as “oisab el kiladitm”. “Ngkirem el korachebis el di ruebet e melalem”.  Days 2 and 3 of the workshop revolved around continued improvement in management of protected areas with specific management and planning tools for participants provided by Steven Victor, Umai Basilius, and Lolita Gibbons-Decherong.

Along with a session on communications and outreach provided by Ileberang Olkeriil from PICRC.  The workshop is a continuing effort for the PAN and all partners involved so that Palau remains committed to the sound management and sustainability of its biodiversity.   Since 2009, when the PAN became fully operational, the green fee supports over 100 full time personnel in conservation and protected areas, related administrative and operations support services from the PAN Office and PAN Fund.  Together with partners, the PAN manages an estimated 1,331km² near shore marine habitat, 20km² mangroves, 90km2 of terrestrial habitat.

The continued capacity building of state conservation personnel is vital to the effective management and success of the Protected Areas Network.  The workshop was made possible through collaborative effort from the Palau PAN Office, Palau Conservation Society, the Nature Conservancy, the PAN Fund, the Pacific Islands Marine Protected and Conservation (PIMPAC), and the Palau GEF Small Grants Program.(PR)