A report released last May provides the framework for future ecosystem-based planning on and around Addu Atoll in the Indian Ocean nation of Maldives. Addu is the second-most populous atoll in the Maldivian archipelago, which encompasses 26 atolls and more than a thousand islands and islets. The report Framework for an Ecosystem-Based Management Plan for Addu Atoll, Republic of Maldives was co-developed by the Government of the Maldives and the University of Queensland (Australia), with funding from the Australian and New Zealand overseas aid programs. It is available at www.gefcoral.org/Portals/53/downloads/EBM%20Framework-Addu%20Atoll.pdf.

Rather than dictating a specific EBM plan for Addu, the report is a template that Maldivian planners will use later to develop such a plan. Richard Kenchington, who participated as part of the Australian planning contingent, says it made sense to start with a framework in this case rather than jumping right into EBM planning for Addu.

"Our Australian team's task was to work with staff of the Maldivian Ministry of Environment, Energy and Water to develop their national capacity for EBM planning and implementation," he says. "The approach of developing a framework provided a good basis for such capacity-building. It also reflected a view that an EBM plan cannot simply be imposed on a community, particularly if it is seen by that community to be driven by external experts – such as Australians in this example. In my view, a developed framework with clear operational principles appropriate to the social and environmental context is an important precursor to effective, accepted, and implementable planning."

The framework offers guidance on a wide range of subjects, from setting goals and indicators for success, to conducting an environmental impacts assessment, to convincing stakeholders of the value of protecting ecosystem health. Kenchington says Queensland University is already applying elements of the framework in the Cook Islands and will be running a workshop to introduce the concepts more widely to Pacific Island nations.

For more information:

Richard Kenchington, RAC Marine (consultancy), Canberra, Australia. E-mail: richard.kenchington@netspeed.com.au