Opunohu Bay and Valley


With their picture-postcard landscape, Opunohu Bay and Valley attract thousands of tourists annually. But the environmental, cultural and social balances of this exceptional site are under threat by too many visitors and pollution.

So as not be left out of the tourist boom, Opunohu residents wish to take control over their valley and lagoon’s future while still striking a balance between local development and their values. INTEGRE is assisting local stakeholders in projects that meet their needs.

The site has seen several unsuccessful projects that have left local stakeholders feeling dissatisfied. Also, with the various rival stakeholders there, it did not appear advisable to issue a call for projects that would probably have ended up favouring one set of stakeholders above others with INTEGRE helping perpetuate individualistic approaches. So, the project worked with the stakeholders to identify useful activities that would nurture a collective effort and, although, the stakeholders are still wary, trust is gradually building up.

A regional methodology workshop was held in Noumea in February 2014 for all project partners. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis was conducted as a project diagnostic tool and planning aid but because of initial conflictual committee meetings, it could not be expanded with local stakeholders.

The AFOM helped better define the project strategy and keep future activities consistent. The issue is developing sustainable tourism. The specific objectives selected for the site project were as follows :

  • Improving the site's environmental and landscape quality
  • Developing eco-tourism activities
  • Helping to set up local governance that will be conducive to developing a sustainable tourist industry


Baie dOpunohu crédit T.McKenna

Geography :

Opunohu Bay and Valley are located in the northern part of Moorea Island, a close neighbour of Tahiti’s just 17 km to the northwest. With its amphitheatre valley overlooked by steep peaks hemming in a crystal-clear bay, Opunohu is one of French Polynesia’s most beautiful landscapes. Toheia, the highest peak, rises to 1207 m. Little Papetoai village with its 300 people nestles in the bay. The lagoon is 15 to 50 m deep and the valley has a very wet microclimate with average rainfall between 2500 and 3500 mm/year. It is also a premier archaeological site with over 500 recorded ruins and sacred sites. Moorea residents see the valley as the island’s actual “lung” and freshwater reservoir.


 Economy :

Opunohu is a fishing Mecca and catch is commonly sold on the roadsides. It is also major tourist attraction with over 50-60,000 visitors a year who come for activities on land, such as bush trekking and visiting archaeological sites, and in the water, such as diving, water sports and boating. The valley has huge swathes of farmland covering 15,000 ha managed by the territory, 99 ha of which is leased to some 50 farmers. Approximately 60 hectares are used for growing pineapples to supply the local Rotui fruit-juice factory. Also on the estate are the Opunohu Agricultural High School and an agricultural training and promotion centre (CFPPA).

Domaine dOPunohu

Biodiversity and environmental pressure :

More than two-thirds of the plant species listed on Moorea are found at the Opunohu site. There are still well-preserved specific coastal environments in the bay including a narrow strip of coastal forest remaining between the lagoon and
road that greatly helps maintain the shoreline. In marine biodiversity terms, the east coast lying at the foot of Mount Rotui is the most abundant with harvested molluscs as well as iconic species, such as green turtles, dolphins and humpback whales.
This outstanding heritage is under both extrinsic and intrinsic threats including farming methods used in the watersheds that affect the river and bay’s quality and resources, invasive species that are a hazard for land biodiversity, rising visitor traffic and shoreline development.


Local governance arrangements :

Management plans have been developed in recent years under several programmes with targeted funding to design multi- partner management plans aimed at working towards the common goal of mitigating environmental impacts and preserving natural environments, as summarised below :

  • The General Land-Use Plan (PGA) has been applied throughout Moorea Island
  • The marine area management plan (PGEM) is monitored by a standing committee and association. It covers the whole of Moorea Lagoon
  • Moorea Lagoon is listed under the RAMSAR Convention as a wetland of international importance.
  • In 2012-2013, the French Polynesia Government and the municipalities drove a project to have the bay listed as a protected natural area, but the findings of a public enquiry required prior to official listing prevented the project from
    succeeding and it has been shelved
  • The Rural Development Department (SDR), which manages Opunohu Estate, is currently working on a development blueprint for the area to ensure farming and tourism there develop harmoniously.

A regional methodology workshop was held in Noumea in February 2014 for all project partners. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis was conducted as a project diagnostic tool and planning aid but because of initial conflictual committee meetings, it could not be expanded with local stakeholders.


PF cps 1

In order to achieve these objectives, an action plan was developed based on three activity groups:

Activity 1. Improve environmental and landscape quality


INTEGRE supports the following projects :

  • Contain silt pollution
  • Reduce chemical and organic inputs,in agriculture

Provisional Amount : XPF 24 million / € 200 000

Operators :  Rural Development Department & CRIOBE / Opunohu Agricultural High School

For more details, consulte Activity statement :

  • Réduction de l'érosion terrigène
  • Unité de compostage - Valorisation des eefluents d'élevage porcin comme angrais organique
  • Mise au pooint d'un itinéraire technique répondant aux normes de l'agriculture biologique sur la culture d'ananas


Activity 2. Ecotourism activities


INTEGRE supports the following projects :

  • Set up an ethnobotanical trail with explanations and interpretations
  • Set up a fitness track
  • Set up a visitor and cultural facility

Provisional Amount : XPF 29 million / € 243 000

Operators :  Culture and Heritage Department / Rural Development Youth and Sports Department / Moorea Municipality

For more details, consulte Activity statement :

  • Parcours de découverte et d'interprétation éthnobotanique
  • Mise en place d'un "parcours santé"
  • Réaliser une étude de faisabilité et de programmation d'une structure d'accueil et d'animation sur le domaine d'Opunohu


Activité 3. Helping set up local governance for sustainable development

INTEGRE supports the following project :

  • Devising a sustainable development plan

Provisional Amount : XPF 21 million / € 176 000

Operators :  CRIOBE / Moorea Municipality / SPC

For more details, consulte Activity statement :

  • Elaborer un diagnostic et des actions partagés pour une gestion intégrée du bassin versant d'Opunohu
  • Animation du processus d'élaboration du plan de gestion d'Opunohu


Synthesis planned activities on the site :


Moorea Julie PETIT

INTEGRE project is working towards the following objectives :

  • Assisting with sustainable economic development, particularly in tourism
  • Helping control man-made threats.
  • Boosting the participatory management process and involving local stakeholders more effectively
  • Contributing to sustainable integrated natural and cultural resource management

On the site of Opunohu Bay and Valley, the balance of the activities is the following one :

- PF – C2O1 : Improve the environmental and landscape quality of the site


Erosion is an environmental and economic threat to the Opunohu site, slowly killing the marine ecosystems at the bottom of the bay and contributing to the loss of the extremely rich agricultural land of the Opunohu estate. It has also been known for many years but few actions or studies had been carried out on the subject before the INTEGRE project.

The territorial financing of the INTEGRE project has enabled the Directorate of Agriculture to take up the subject and regional financing, through bilateral exchanges, to encourage certain farmers to modify their practices. The project has had a significant leverage effect since with INTEGRE financing of nearly 4 million, the country has invested nearly 30 million, almost seven times more for the implementation of the anti-erosive scheme.

From the scientific point of view, the CRIOBE, a research centre that has characterized the erosion phenomena in the bay, will continue monitoring work on a dozen sites in order to measure the evolution of sedimentation with regard to upstream developments in the field.

The organic pineapple as developed under the project is not yet economically viable due to the difficulties of combating weediness but experiments will continue beyond INTEGRE with funding from the Country. The strong demand for this product and the country's proactive policy on organic farming should lead to a viable itinerary for this crop.

The setting up of a composting station made it possible both to support the organic farming activities of the farm of the agricultural high school but it also made it possible to develop a method of treating pig effluents.

For more details, consulte Activity statement : PF - C2.O1 Amélioration de la qualite environnementale et paysagère du site


- PF – C2O2 : Developing sustainable ecotourism activities


The project supported traditional development activities by trying to stimulate a participatory dynamic in the definition of development projects with mixed success concerning the archaeological zone since the monitoring committee, which had been proposed by the project coordinator, was not set up, despite the provision of the local facilitator INTEGRE to help with its animation. The developments carried out in the area still constitute a real enhancement of the site's heritage.

In parallel, the real mark of the project in terms of integrated coastal zone management lies in the development of the reception structure which combines both an intersectoral (culture, agriculture, tourism and environment), land-sea (eel, canoe) and participatory approach. The realization of the project is not yet certain, now charges the association to prove that it can manage such an investment.

This project has demonstrated that the population, well supported, is capable of developing convincing tourism projects. It would certainly be desirable that in the future such projects be developed in even closer partnership with the country so that the latter does not position itself only as funder but as co-porter of the project and its implementation.

For more details, consulte Activity statement : PF - C2.O2 Développement d'activités écotouristiques


- PF – C2O3 : Participate in the establishment of a governance conducive to the development of sustainable tourism


The thanks of the population towards the INTEGRE project during the last local committee of the site in Papetoai show all the progress made these last 4 years. The substantial investment (nearly 20M XPF) in animation and listening finds here all its justification and proved necessary given the climate of mistrust that was encountered at the beginning of the project. This investment benefited the local facilitator, who gradually proved to be extremely gifted in facilitating meetings, anticipating conflicts or a fine understanding of actors' games. It represents a large part of the success of the participation on the site. As soon as her contract ended, she was hired by the Moorea municipal services to manage the Maritime Space Management Plan, where she will continue to ensure the participation of stakeholders in municipal policies. This project also marked the beginning of a productive collaboration between the Directorate of Agriculture, manager of the Opunohu estate, the commune and the population of Papetoai. The Director, present at the last local committee and strongly involved in the field during the duration of the project, undertook to perpetuate the INTEGRE dynamic of "working together" for the years to come.

For more details, consulte Activity statement : PF - C2.O3 Participation à la mise en place d'une gouvernance propice au développement d'un tourisme durable



Documents of French Polynesia

PF - Activity statement

PF - C2.O1 Amélioration de la qualite environnementale et paysagère du site

PF - C2.O2 Développement d'activités écotouristiques

PF - C2.O3 Participation à la mise en place d'une gouvernance propice au développement d'un tourisme durable

PF - Sustainable farming practices in the Opunohu area

Accompagnement vers des pratiques agricoles durables sur le domaine d'Opunohu, Polynésie française

Etude des moyens disponibles pour la maitrise de l'enherbement en agriculture biologique dans le contexte polynésien

Etude de la faisabilité de la production d'ananas semi-intensive en agriculture biologique dans le contexte polynésien

Caractérisation et valorisation d'une station de compostage en région tropicale

PF - Terrigenous deposits of Opunohu Bay - Moorea

Caractérisation et suivi des dépôts terrigènes de la baie d'Opunohu

Caractérisation de l'impact anthropique que le littoral de Moorea

PF - Reception structure within the Opunohu Estate

Mission d'accompagnement des acteurs de Opunohu à la définition des modalités de pilotage, de gestion et d'un programme d'activités pérennes pour une structure d'accueil au sein du domaine d'Opunohu - Rapport final - Mission d'expertise conseil

Mission d'accompagnement des acteurs de Opunohu à la définition des modalités de pilotage, de gestion et d'un programme d'activités pérennes pour une structure d'accueil au sein du domaine d'Opunohu - Rapport de synthèse de l'enquête.

Programme d'activités - structure d'accueil du domaine d'Opunohu

PF - Contribution to a shared diagnosis of Opunohu

'Opunohu, Mo'orea, Polynésie française - Contribution à un diagnostic partagé

Les défis de 'Opunohu, Mo'orea, Polynésie française - Contribution à la gestion intégrée des territoires du Pacifique insulaire

PF - Characterization fauna flora remarkable on the archeological zone of Opunohu

Inventaire, cartographie et caractérisation faune flore - arbre et végétaux remarquable sur la zone archéologique de la vallée d'Opunohu

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