Great South

lac de yate2

The following issues and objectives were identified for INTEGRE for the New Caledonia's Southern Tip pilote site :

1. Strengthen and pursue the existing World Heritage process:

2. Manage pressures related to traffic and tourism in the marine and coastal environments;

3. Develop a strategic environmental vision for introducing consistency in environmental policy in the Far South.

The pilot area in New Caledonia’s far south is made up of the land, coastal and marine environments found at the main island’s southern tip. It straddles three townships (Mont Dore, Yate and Isle of Pines) and covers an 841,800 ha expanse, including approximately 140,000 ha of land, and encompassing the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Great Southern Lagoon.

The area’s major environmental value has been acknowledged both in terms of the land, with its rich, original flora, many protected areas and RAMSAR project location, and sea, with its highly diverse reef formations and many symbolically important species, etc. Only the coast is settled with a population of 3000 spread across various Melanesian village areas along New Caledonia’s east coast and on Ouen Island and the Isle of Pines. The main economic activities are as follows:

  • Mining in several locations, some disused mines and a number of highly attractive and rich mineral deposits. The Prony area is host to the vast Vale NC industrial complex that includes a nickel processing plant, harbour and the related 1900 ha of nickel mines. The project employs 4000 people, 1200 of whom directly (mostly accommodated on site), and 600 local subcontractors;
  •  The tourist industry, particularly on the Isle of Pines, which is one of New Caledonia’s leading holiday destinations, but also throughout the area that still has significant tourist potential;
  • Commercial, game and subsistence fishing. The lagoon is an important fishing grounds for fishers from the greater Noumea area and the Isle of Pines supplies most of the rock lobsters harvested in New Caledonia ;
  •  The area also contains a burgeoning forestry sector, low-key aquaculture (a single surgeonfish farm) and little or no agriculture other than subsistence gardens.

carte grand sud

The main environmental threats in the area are related to:

 increased traffic and tourism, which may lead to undue pressure on fishing resources, damage to heavily visited areas, disturbance of wild animals and land-use conflicts with local communities;

  • mining reserves. Natural environment conservation competes directly with this highly lucrative and employment-generating industry;
  • erosion at damaged sites resulting in excess sediment in the lagoon from mining, former timberland and fire-damaged land;
  • fire that is to blame for reducing the extent of some environments and breaking them up (particularly forests) as well as depleting the soil;
  • and exotic invasive plant and animal species.

 There are several governance and site management facilities in place:

UNESCO World Heritage-listed since 2008, the Great Southern Lagoon area (marine and coastal sections of the pilot area) has been heavily discussed and major efforts have been deployed to organise local governance with the aim of introducing integrated sustainable management. The efforts have been driven by the Southern Province’s Environment Department and involve the various appropriate provincial and territorial authorities and local communities through three local management committees (associations) on Ouen Island, the Isle of Pines and at Goro. In order to coordinate discussions at area-wide level, the Management Committee Union was set up in 2011. Environmental associations, industry groups, OEIL (New Caledonia’s environmental observatory) and the companies participate in an advisory capacity. The site’s 2013-2017 management plan was approved in 2013 but there was a clear slowdown in actions that year while awaiting political approval.

With the Vale southern ore processing plant operating in the area, several arrangements have been made to monitor the project’s potential environmental and social impacts:

  • a 30-year Far South development project pact between Vale New Caledonia and the local communities signed on 27 September 2008. This requires the company to set up and implement specific measures to sustainably assist with the Far South’s development. Three organisations serve as its core members, namely the Vale New Caledonia Corporate Foundation, Customary Environmental Advisory Committee (CCCE) and reforestation association; 
  • a biodiversity protection agreement between the Southern Province Government and the company involving compensation measures related to the processing plant project, which is currently being renegotiated;
  • OEIL, an environmental observation association set up to monitor the potential impact of mining in the South.

In early 2014 the Plaines des lacs was recognised under the RAMSAR Wetlands Convention. This was the latest addition to the large network of terrestrial protected areas in New Caledonia’s Far South.

Three major activities have been planned:

Activity 1: Strengthening participatory management in the Great Southern Lagoon

The aim is to organise management committee operations, improve their scope of work and enable them to implement part of the Great Southern Lagoon management plan. Two facilitators will be recruited to assist the Isle of Pines, Goro and Ouen Island management committees. Funds have also been earmarked for developing the activities they wish to implement. Such activities will first need to be jointly approved by SPC and the Southern Province and submitted to the local committee.

Amount requested: XPF 24.8 million/ € 200,000

Operators: Southern Province / Isle of Pines, Goro and Ouen Island management committees / others to be identified.

Activity 2: Managing pressures related to traffic and tourism in the Great Southern Lagoon marine environments

The aims are to:

-  carry out studies to describe the traffic pressures (tourist use and natural resource quarrying)

-  carry out invasive species control activities

-  develop offshore islands and shoreline to make traffic compatible with conservation issues

- conduct awareness and communication activities

Amount requested: XPF 29.7 million / € 248,886

Operators: Southern Province / Isle of Pines, Goro and Ouen Island management committees / Isle of Pines municipality / SCO

Activity 3: Develop an environmental policy and management blueprint for the Great Southern Lagoon

The aim is to introduce consistency and a strategic vision to environmental policy in the Far South, where several initiatives are being implemented, i.e. Great Southern Lagoon World Heritage; RAMSAR area; terrestrial protected area network; eroded site restoration; mining and compensation measures and environmental monitoring.

A project officer will be recruited at the Southern Province to handle this using a participatory and collaborative approach. RESCCUE will provide extra expertise to implement the project.

Amount requested: XPF 13.5 million/€ 113,500

Operators: Southern Province

Total funds requested: XPF 68 million / € 569,840

The first operational activities are getting under way : 

Activity 1 : "Strengthening participatory management in the Great Southern Lagoon" : the recruitement of the two facilitators by the south province is underway. Meanwhile, the management comittees prepare their own action plans for 2015.

Activity 2 : "Managing pressures related to traffic and tourism in the Great Southern Lagoon marine environments" : the south province has launched a call for tenders to study the economical, social and environnemental impacts of tourism in the Isle of Pine.

Activity 3 : "Develop an environmental policy and management blueprint for the Great Southern Lagoond" : recruitement process is on going.

Pacific territories’ initiative for regional management of the environment

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