Ouvéa and Beautemps-Beaupré atolls


The project adresses some of the main environnemental issues of the site : Preserve Ouvea's outstanding natural heritage, incorporate local culture into site environmental management, stimulate the site joint management process and rally local stakeholders; and develop the natural environment for the benefit of the local community.

The objectives for the INTEGRE are therfore to :

1. Stimulate the site's participatory management process and rally local stakeholders and turn them into guardians of their natural heritage;

2. Help control threats that could affect the site (coastal erosion, invasive species...);

3. Develop Ouvea's natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of the local community by developing ecotourism in the Mouli district.

The whole of both Ouvea and Beautemps-Beaupre atolls, which are part of the INTEGRE project for the Loyalty Islands, are UNESCO World Heritage-listed as serial properties (including their buffer zones) and extend over 137,000 ha, 14,400 of which are on land.

carte ouvéa

The area is well known for its rich marine environment and for having the Loyalty Islands’ only mangroves. As it is geographically isolated and hosts a variety of marine and coastal habitats, it is conducive to the breeding and growth of many iconic or endangered species, such as seabirds, turtles and sharks. It is also free of fish poisoning (ciguatera). On land, there is a well preserved primary forest that is home to species such as the Ouvea parrot, which is endemic to the island; decollate snail, flying fox and coconut crab. The island is also free of black rats (Rattus rattus) and fire ants (Wasmannia auropunctata).

Ouvea island covers 132 sq. km, rises to 46 m and has a population of approximately 3400 living in 20 Melanesian village areas divided among five customary districts. There is no urban area and, as in the rest of the Loyalty Islands Province, land tenure is exclusively governed by custom.

Ouvea’s economy is mainly based on tourism and fisheries.

  • Far removed from mass tourism, the industry revolves around a handful of guest accommodation facilities including a large resort and homestays in Melanesian villages. Ouvea banned cruise ships in 2007 following damage to reefs inflicted by ships’ anchors, which considerably heightened the fish poisoning hazard on the island, but there is considerable development potential;
  • Fishing is organised by a union of some 15 licensed commercial fishermen and the industry is being developed around a seafood packaging plant at Takedji in the north of the island;
  • Other businesses include sandalwood, copra (with an oil mill and soap factory in Wadrilla), and vanilla plantations.

The main pressures on and issues identified for biodiversity and resources are:

  • coastal erosion caused by climate change and/or quarrying for sand, coral and limestone for building purposes;
  •  invasive species: one of the major challenges for biosecurity is preventing the entry of the black rat and fire ant that could have serious consequences on the island’s biodiversity and economy and a significant impact on health. The local ASBO association is working on the issue;
  • localised overfishing and unsuitable fishing practices including invertebrate harvesting: there are no provincial marine protected areas but eight customary reserves have been recorded;
  • waste management: the population needs to be educated in best practices;
  • deforestation, forest habitat damage and a dire lack of fire-fighting facilities;
  • and eutrophication: algae proliferation and cyanobacteria development issues are often observed.

In terms of site governance and management, it should be noted that running alongside the area’s UNESCO World Heritage listing, a common, shared management process has been set up for Ouvea’s natural and cultural heritage by the island’s five chiefly councils, the Loyalty Islands Province Government and Ouvea municipality. In 2009, a management committee was set up, followed in 2011 by the Bomene Tapu (or forbidden island) environmental GDPL (special local-status association).

The association has 34 members drawn from the island’s 20 tribes. Its objective is to “develop and preserve practices related to traditional natural resource management on Ouvea island and Beautemps-Beaupre atolls insofar as they protect and sustainably preserve natural resources in the interests of present and future generations”. Under the collaboration arrangement between provincial government and the GDPL, it is officially recognised that the customary authorities are entitled to involvement in the stewardship process.

Such joint management is underpinned by expert working parties that involve all stakeholders, i.e. commercial fisheries, tourism developers, science and environment players, cultural and historical heritage groups and education and training professionals. They are tasked with implementing management-plan action points through local players or by outsourcing skills with the aim of becoming self-sufficient.

The entire scheme, which is still in the start-up phase, is driven by the Loyalty Islands Province Environment Department. The management plan has been finalised and approved and runs for five years (2012 to 2017) with its activities reviewed annually.

Other current initiatives are underway such as a provincial quarry blueprint and the provincial Environment Code, currently being finalised, that creates a protected area, i.e. the customary nature reserve. A new refuse tip project meeting strict environmental requirements and a review of the Loyalty Islands waste management blueprint are also being carried out by the Loyalty Islands Province.

Five major activities are planned :

Activity 1. Strengthen Ouvea and Beautemps-Beaupre lagoon governance and participatory management

This activity will make a facilitator available for the GDPL (local special-law corporation), who will provide it with the human resources required to fulfil its role as an Ouvea and Beautemps-Beaupre site co-manager. It will also set up a joint lagoon surveillance facility made up of the Loyalty Islands Province and commercial fisheries and strengthen participatory reef monitoring.

Amount requested: XPF 29.5 million / € 247,210

Operators: Loyalty Islands Province / Bomene Tapu GDPL / fishers’ union

Activity 2. Organise an eco-tourist industry in Mouli District

The aim is to set up facilities such as a trekking trail, picnic area, underwater trail and signposts, etc to showcase southern Ouvea’s natural and cultural heritage and facilitate tourist development in the district.

Amount requested: XPF 20 million / € 167,600

Operators: Loyalty Islands Province / Bomene Tapu GDPL / fishers’ union

Activity 3. Lekiny-Fayava traditional reserve management (Mouli District)

The traditional reserve will be listed in the Loyalty Islands Province environmental code when it is published in late 2014. It will be a pilot site for implementing new provisions contained in the code, including local management committees and a management plan. Studies will also be carried out to describe erosion and improve development that impacts on mangrove hinterland areas.

Amount requested: XPF 7 million / € 58,660

Operators: Loyalty Islands Province / Bomene Tapu GDPL / Lekiny tribe / UNC / MNHN

Activity 4. Invasive species control

Two activities have been planned including eradicating rats on a trial island to protect seabird colonies and an international consultancy to strengthen Ouvea Island’s biosecurity against black rats, which it is free of at the moment.

Amount requested: XPF 7 million / €58,660

Operators: ASBO/ Loyalty Islands Province / Bomene Tapu GDPL

Activity 5. Awareness and communication

The aim is to set up a teaching aid bank for community awareness about lagoon protection by collecting existing aids available in the territory and developing new ones. School projects revolving around lagoon protection will also be organised.

Amount requested: XPF 4.5 million / € 37,710

Operators: Loyalty Islands Province / Bomene Tapu GDPL / IGE / primary and junior secondary schools

Total funding requested: XPF 68 million/ € 569 840

The first operational activities are getting under way :

Activity 1 : "Strengthen Ouvea and Beautemps-Beaupre lagoon governance and participatory management" : the recruitement of a facilitator for the GDPL Bomene Tapu is underway.

Activity 2 : "Organise an eco-tourist industry in Mouli District" : this activity will be lauched after the arrival of the GDPL facilitator.

Activity 3 : "Lekiny-Fayava traditional reserve management (Mouli District)": Matthieu Leduff from the Université of New Caledonia had his first visit in Ouvea where he starts a phD work on coastal erosion, partly funded by the INTEGRE project.

Activity 4 : "Invasive species control" : As part of the projet of the eradication of rats in Beautemps-Beaupré atoll, the ASBO (assocation pour la sauvergarde de la biodiversité d'Ouvéa) has organised in November a field trip to assess the rats and seabirds populations on the island.

Activity 5 : "Awareness and communication": this activity will be lauched after the arrival of the GDPL facilitator.

Pacific territories’ initiative for regional management of the environment

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