Pitcairn site

pn-siteprojetThe Pitcairn Islands are a group of four small, near-pristine islands which can claim to be some of the most remote islands in the world, lying 1570 km west of Easter Island and 5350 km north-east of New Zealand. They consist of Pitcairn (the only inhabited island), Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno. The inhabitants are mostly descendants of the mutineers of HMS Bounty and their Tahitian companions. The climate is sub-tropical and the islands have rich volcanic soil and lush vegetation.

This destination for history or nature lovaers can only be reached by boat.

 

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The site is composed of four small, near-pristine islands which can claim to be some of the most remote islands in the world.

Pitcairn : The peak of a dead volcano, rising to a height of 347 m above sea level, with high volcanic steep slopes, Pitcairn has an approximate land area of 5 sq. km.The climate is sub-tropical and the island has rich volcanic soil and lush vegetation. Transport is by quad bike, and the island is in a mainly unspoiled condition;

Henderson : raised fossilized coral atoll, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site;

Ducie : the most southerly coral atoll in the world, a central lagoon surrounded by four tiny islands covering an area of 70 ha;

Oeno : low-lying coral atoll of 65 ha, surrounded by a shallow lagoon and a fringing reef.

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A 2012 National Geographic scientific expedition declared the marine waters around Pitcairn Islands to be in a nearly unspoiled state. It highlights the "pristine marine ecosystems with intact coral communities and healthy fish populations dominated by top predators such as sharks (...), unaltered deep sea habitats [harbouring] unique biodiversity (rare deep sea sharks, fish species completely new to science)". Following this expedition, the Pitcairn Island Council supported the Pew (Charitable Trusts) proposal of a creation of a marine reserve, which is currently being considered by the UK Government.

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Pitcairn has a permanent resident population of 49 (UNGA, 2013), composed of 50% male/female, 19% under 20 years of age, 61% between 21&65, 20% over 60 years. The current labour force consists of 31 able-bodied persons. Ten non-resident officials, who are generally on one-year contracts, add to this total.

Employment is divided between:

  • Government sector with 82 part-time paid Government posts. The island receives aid from the British Government (Department for International Development – DFID) to provide for essential needs. Government incomes include: revenue from stamp and coin sales, landing fees, visa application fees, domain name (.pn), registration fees, and passenger fares;
  • Private sector: tourism (curio/souvenir shops, etc.; tours, home stays), carving and sale of handicrafts, beekeeping and honey production, fishing, fruit & vegetable crops, some animal husbandry, general maintenance, bartering with cruise ships, fish sales (mainly around supplying small quantities to passing ships on a very causal basis).

DFID, via the PIO, initiated two consultancy projects that have now been completed:

  • A Diaspora survey to support the work being done on repopulation
  • An Economic survey to look at the current economic position and the expected economic future based on current indicators.

Pitcairn is administered by the Governor of the Pitcairn Islands, a position held by the British High Commissioner to New Zealand, based in Wellington, New Zealand. The Governor basically represents the Pitcairn Island Government (GPI).

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The Governor's Office, including the Deputy Governor and in collaboration with the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) and DFID (Department for International Development) provides the functions of a central government.

The Governor Office also has a FCO-appointed Governor's Representative who is based on Pitcairn Island and assists the Governor in the day to day management of the Island.

The Pitcairn Islands Office (PIO) based in Auckland New Zealand, provides the financial, operational and logistical roles for the GPI.

The Pitcairn Island Council is the elected body of the island. It is composed of the Adamstown's mayor (President of the PIC, elected for three years), the deputy mayor and five elected councillors (who all serve two-year terms).

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Under the PIC, four divisions ensure the day to day administration of the island:

  • Community Division
  • Natural Resources Division
  • Operation Division
  • Finance & Economics Division

The Division of Natural Resources concentrates on conservation and biosecurity.

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Pitcairn islands' strengths can also be its weaknesses: its remoteness and small population have both contributed to the preservation of the environment and prevented proper development of capabilities and activities.

The following items have been identified as priority environmental issues:

Waste management is an area that could be improved in many aspects. Currently there are no measures in place to ensure the safety of either employees or community members at the waste site. There are no recycling facilities and no standards for dealing with hazardous materials such as batteries, microwaves, etc. Current practice is all household rubbish and hazardous waste is burned in a deep pit.

Soil erosion. Over the past few years Pitcairn has experienced a change in weather patterns with unpredictable weather and above-average rainfall. In February 2012, Pitcairn received over 600 mm of rain within a 24-hour period, which caused landslides in various locations. The main point of entry to Pitcairn is Bounty Bay, which received the worst damage from multiple landslides. The ocean surrounding Pitcairn was covered with a heavy blanket of mud for a three-month period. During heavy rainfall, this is a common sight around the island. Although, the February 2012 incident was an unexpected event, with careful inspection and experience the damage could have been less drastic. As shown by experts (Tonkin and Taylor, 2014), the wild goats which covered the island were responsible for almost all soil erosion.

Fisheries management. An on-going UK-funded Darwin Initiative operation aims at defining a carrying capacity and the potential for economic fishing: a management plan should be proposed before the end of the year (2014). Once it is completed, needs will be better defined and INTEGRE might be used to help launch the plan's implementation.

Invasive pests. Rats are not only a hindrance to local farming yields but are also a health risk. Wild goats had multiplied on the island and were at a saturation point. The latest environmental impact evaluation conducted prior to the "alternate harbour" building has highlighted their impact on soil erosion.

Commercial development. The Governor of Pitcairn Islands has expressed Pitcairn's interest in trading with French Polynesia (Gambier Islands - closest neighbour to Pitcairn) especially in produce and fish.

Thefollowing  priorities identified in the strategic development plan should also be underlined:

  • Immigration and re-population
  • Infrastructure development
  • Tourism development

Pacific territories’ initiative for regional management of the environment

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