About Ridge to Reef

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CONSERVING BIODIVERSITY AND ENHANCING ECOSYSTEM FUNCTIONS THROUGH A “RIDGE TO REEF” APPROACH IN THE COOK ISLANDS

RIDGE TO REEF?

Integrated approaches to freshwater and coastal area management have been termed ‘Ridge to Reef’ to emphasise the inter-connections between the natural and social systems from the mountain ‘ridges’ of volcanic islands, through coastal watersheds and habitats, and across coastal lagoons to the fringing ‘reef’ environments

The Cook Islands is implementing a project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) “Ridge to Reef” approach in the Cook Islands

PROTECTIVE OBJECTIVE

“To build national and local capacities and actions to ensure effective conservation of biodiversity and livelihoods and the enhancement of ecosystem functions that contribute to food security and livelihoods within the Cook Islands Marine Park”

THE PROJECT WILL ACHIEVE ITS OBJECTIVE THROUGH THE IMPLEMETATION OF THE TWO COMPONENTS

  1. Strengthen Protected Areas Management and
  2. Effective mainstreaming of biodiversity in key sectors to mitigate threats within production landscapes

The R2RProject will enhance the Cook Islands’ capacities to effectively manage its protected areas and sustainably manage its productive landscapes at local scales while taking into account food security and livelihoods, including operationalisation of the Marae Moana – the Cook Islands Marine Park (CIMP), and the establishment and strengthening of various forms of protected and locally managed areas within the CIMP, including Protected Natural Areas, Community Conservation Areas, and Ra’ui Sites.

The project will support the Government in tailoring policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks to suit the specific characteristics of the Cook Islands and of the new CIMP, recognizing that protection and sustainable use will need to be planned carefully, particularly given that land and marine areas and resources is vested primarily in private landowners and local communities.

In so doing, the project will support the Cook Islands in maintaining traditional resource management and conservation systems and approaches, including a leading role for traditional and local leaders and communities, while also integrating these traditional systems into a formal legal and institutional system of protected areas. As part of the “ridge to reef” management approach, activities in the immediate production landscapes adjacent to marine and terrestrial protected areas will be managed to reduce threats to biodiversity stemming from key production activities (tourism and agriculture).