Raiatea & Tahaa islands and lagoon

raiatea tahaa peggy

The Raiatea and Taha’a islands pilot site is host to remarkable biodiversity, but environmental and social balances both on land in the lagoon are under threat from growing boating, tourism, agriculture and pearl-farming activities. INTEGRE supports recently enacted public policy to assist in sustainably developing both islands’ economies (details below).

INTEGRE is part of a multi-stakeholder networking and consultation process and aims to develop sustainable environmental management in this fragile and remote island group.

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 and was completed during the 1st local site committee meeting the following month.

This analysis helped better define the project strategy and make future activities more consistent, with the main objective being to support the development of economic activities without damaging the quality of the natural and cultural environments. The specific objectives selected for the site project were as follows :

  • Help contain potential or actual pollution from economic activity, e.g. farming, fisheries and boating, etc
  • Help develop sustainable economic activity in organic or integrated farming, ecotourism or pearl farming.
  • Support the introduction of sustainable integrated management of lagoon use


tahaa raiatea panorama

Geography :

Raiatea Island, located 210 km to the northwest of Tahiti, is in the Leeward Islands of the Society Island group. With a land area of 238 sq. km, it is the 4th largest in French Polynesia. Nicknamed the “sacred island”, Raiatea has a steep central mountain range with the highest peak, Mount Tefatua, rising to 1017 m. The volcanic mountains are etched by deep green valleys and fertile plateaus.

On its fringes, the fairly narrow coastal plain is home to most of the population of 12,000, who are quite evenly distributed around the island. There are archaeological ruins, including Taputapuatea Marae (sacred site) located on an 8-hectare estate that is French Polynesia’s most important in spiritual and archaeological terms, as the cradle of the Polynesian gods. Raiatea is divided into three municipalities, i.e. Uturoa, Taputapuatea and Tumaraa. Uturoa is the Leeward Islands’ administrative headquarters and main township. It boasts a deep-water port where large vessels can dock and moor.

The smaller nearby 88 sq. km sister island of Taha’a lies in the same lagoon as Raiatea and has similar features. The population is 5220 and Mount Ohiri overlooks the island at 590 m above sea level. The lagoon is dotted with motus and has a surface area of 290 sq. km.


Economy :

Raiatea’s economy is mainly based on small-scale farming and fisheries supplying the local market and Bora Bora’s tourist facilities. All sorts of lagoon fish resources are harvested for the market, including fish, crustaceans and sea urchins. Other business lines are on the rise including pearl farming and tourism. With two marinas, Raiatea is home to the territory’s main yacht rental companies and is developing water sports, a fast-growing line. Numerous air and sea links with Tahiti and neighbouring islands make Raiatea an open and bustling island with daily flights and many schooner wharfs. Taha’a’s economy is based mainly on Tahitian vanilla, for which it is the leading producer in French Polynesia; copra, and the increasingly popular nono fruit (Morinda citrifolia). Family farming for subsistence purposes is well developed. Taha’a has no airport, but many schooner wharfs located all around the island.


Biodiversity and environmental pressure :

In marine terms, the 10 boat passes around both islands open them up to the ocean and rapidly renew water in the lagoon, which is 290 sq km in area and up to 55 m deep. Raiatea and Taha’a have many deep bays with fringing reefs that are fairly damaged by development, but lend themselves well to aquaculture, e.g. prawns bred in pens and crabs, etc. Coral ecosystems in Taha’a’s north are still well preserved, particularly the barrier reefs.

On land, Raiatea and Taha’a hold outstanding biodiversity with original plant formations and a very high flora endemism rate. Te Mehani‘ute‘ute Plateau on southern Raiatea alone holds half the island’s floral diversity, although it is only 0.06% of its surface area! With a mean altitude of 500 to 800 m and a 69 ha surface area, the plateau has 216 plant species, 96 of which are endemic to French Polynesia and 48 to Raiatea, such as the iconic apetahi variety of gardenia, (Apetahia raiateensis). The plateau also has Tahiti petrel (Pseudobulweria rostrata) nesting sites, a seabird that is protected in French Polynesia. The plateau is also a sacred site with archaeological ruins.

There are several threats to this outstanding heritage’s integrity, including inadequate management of operations in the watersheds, particularly farming, drainage and coastal development and, in the lagoon, fishing, boating and tourism.


Local governance arrangements :

Management plans have been developed in recent years under several programmes with targeted funding so as to work towards the common goal of mitigating environmental impacts and preserving natural environments.

  • French Polynesia’s forestry programme
  • Endangered endemic species conservation programme: (in place since 2004)
  • Agroforestry development plan: develop pilot crop protocols for combined tree and foodcrop planting (Maraeroa state land)
  • Maritime planning scheme (PGEM): Uturoa’s application; Tahaa PGEM launched in 2008
  • Water sport tourism development project: XPF 120 million for 16 sites in the Leeward Islands implemented by the Raiatea Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Services and Trades Department (CCISM). Taputapuatea Marae UNESCO World-Heritage-listing project
  • Faaroa state land integrated management plan.

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 and was completed during the 1st local site committee meeting the following month.



association tamarii

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

Activity 1. Help contain pollution


INTEGRE supported the following projects :

  • Managing silt and organic pollution from permaculture practices.
  • Abattoir waste recycling.
  • Industrial waste management .
  • Curtail agricultural weed killers.
  • Set up organic demonstration farms and vegetable gardens in primary schools.

Provisional Amount : XPF 28,5 M / (i.e. EUR 240,000)

Operators : SARL Vaihuti Fresh / Rural Development Department / Chamber of Commerce Industry and Trades / Taputapuatea Municipality

For more details, consulte Activity statement :


 Activity 2. In order to develop sustainable economic activity


INTEGRE supported the following projects :

  • Local product showcasing and sales by building and fitting out a faré at Tehurui.
  • Develop an ecotourism area on Tiarere site.
  • Set up shared kitchen gardens and organic farming plots.
  • Set up a multi-purpose site for farming, sports and tourism on Puohine.

Provisional Amount : XPF 23,5 M / (i.e. EUR 197,000)

Operators : Tumaraa municipality / Taha’a Municipality / Uturoa Municipality / Tamarii Puohine

For more details, consulte Activity statement :


 Activity 3. To set up sustainable integrated lagoon management


INTEGRE supports the following projects :

  • Develop an integrated lagoon management plan.
  • Preserve and showcase Punaeroa motu, Vaiaau.

Provisional Amount : XPF 18 M / (i.e. EUR 151,000)

Operators : Site municipalities and country departments / Punaeroa Association

For more details, consulte Activity statement :


Synthesis of planned activities on the site :


Totem2 Le jardin de corail Tahaa

INTEGRE Project was 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 Raiatea-Tahaa Islands and Lagoon, the balance of the activities is the following one :

- PF - C2R1 : Reduction of pollution from economic activities


All the activities resulted in extremely satisfactory and sustainable results.

The integration of the Vaihuti Fresh farm into the network of organic farming pilot farms, launched as part of the INTEGRE project and continued by the Agriculture Department, ensures that the results still to come, particularly on the monitoring of runoff water, will be presented and promoted within the network.

The municipality of Taputapuatea is pursuing its policy of developing organic farming by investing its own funds, with the recruitment of an organic farming technician, and by seizing various financial support opportunities such as INTEGRE and more recently assisted contracts to support the installation of young farmers or make volunteers available to run organic educational gardens.

Finally, the implementation of a professional waste management system is a remarkable achievement at the project level since the CCISM has succeeded in making this completely new system operational from the quantification of the deposits, the legal set-up to the launch of the system, with the supply of bins, the creation of a label and the commitment of nearly 80% of professionals from the start. This achievement reflects the good adequacy of the project with the needs of professionals.

For more details, consulte Activity statement : PF - C2.R1 Réduction des pollutions issues des activités économiques

- PF - C2R2 : Development of sustainable economic activities


Most of the activities carried out under this development theme have been carried out by the municipalities of the site. In the case of the Tamarii Puohine association, the president of the association is none other than the mayor delegate of the associated commune concerned. This porting by the communities reflects a political will to generate income or means of subsistence for their citizens and especially those who are on the margins of the usual tourist circuits. In this sense, the INTEGRE project has made it possible to diversify the tourist offer of the site by taking part in a form of small-scale tourism, a diversified offer (crafts, hiking, catering, local products, sport) for tourists but also for the inhabitants. However, the project often ran up against a certain form of inertia on the part of the partners, not out of unwillingness but notably because the co-financing provided by the communes, or even the country, required a sometimes long validation period which often caused the dynamics created at the beginning of the project to fade away. Many reminders had to be sent to the partners to ensure that the deadlines were respected.

For more details, consulte Activity statement : PF - C2.R2 Développement d'activités économiques durables

- PF - C2R3 : Support the implementation of a sustainable and integrated management of lagoon uses


The implementation of integrated coastal zone management in French Polynesia has been hampered by the absence of a legal framework for its implementation at institutional level, despite the objective stated in the project documents to implement integrated coastal zone management plans at all sites. These plans could not be formalised from a legal point of view and the documents produced could not be qualified as "plans", terminology which refers to other legal instruments.

Beyond the absence of a legal framework, participation and intersectorality are emerging within Polynesian administrations, yet they constitute pillars of integrated coastal zone management. The INTEGRE project chose to work in the field according to these two pillars in order to demonstrate their effectiveness for the implementation of sustainable development.

In Raiatea-Tahaa, participatory processes have launched a positive dynamic where actors enjoy meeting to build together or simply exchange. For this site which includes 4 communes, fishermen, pleasure boaters, aquaculturists, sportsmen who share an increasingly frequented lagoon, the INTEGRE project was able to demonstrate the interest of putting these actors around a table to defuse conflicts which become inevitable and to build together shared solutions.

The proposal to perpetuate the INTEGRE local committee into a local development committee could make it possible to organise the continuation of the integrated management dynamic launched by the INTEGRE project. However, it must be validated and implemented by the government of French Polynesia, which is directly identified to lead this committee through its local representation.

For more details, consulte Activity statement : PF - C2.R3 Mise en place d'une gestion durable et integrée des usages lagonaires



Documents of French Polynesia

Atlas - Aide à l'information pour le développement local durable du lagon de Ra'iatea-Taha'a

Document de synthèse - Aide à l'organisation du développement local durable et de la gestion intégrée du lagon de Raiatea-Tahaa

Fiches actions - Aide à la réalisation des actions de développement local durable et de gestion intégrée du lagon de Raiatea-Tahaa

Panneau "De la terre à la mer"

Flyer "Gestion des déchets dangereux, ici on s'engage"

PF - Activity statement

PF - C2.R1 Réduction des pollutions issues des activités économiques

PF - C2.R2 Développement d'activités économiques durables

PF - C2.R3 Mise en place d'une gestion durable et integrée des usages lagonaires

PF - Integrated Management of the Raiatea and Taha'a Islands Lagoon

Accompagnement à la mise en place d'un processus de gestion intégrée du lagon des îles de Raiatea et Taha'a mené dans le cadre du projet INTEGRE

Etude des différents usages et des pressions sur les milieux en contribution à l'élaboration du plan de gestion intégrée du lagon des îles de Raiatea et Tahaa (Polynésie française). Reflexions pour une gestion durable du lagon : focus spécifique sur la gestion des ressources de pêche lagonaire

PF - Coral Garden Network for Raiatea-Tahaa Lagoon

Proposition d'un réseau de jardins de corail pour le lagon de Raiatea-Tahaa

PF - Motu Punaeroa - Raiatea

Mission d'évaluation du motu Punaeroa - Phase 1 - Etat des lieux

Suivi du motu Punaeroa - Vaiaau - Tumaraa - Phase 2 - Bilan et recommandations

PF - Socio-economic profiles, in relation to the fisheries and aquaculture policy of French Polynesia

Spatialisation à l'échelle des quartiers des profils socio-économiques, en relation avec la politique des pêches et aquacole de la Polynésie française, de deux sites à partir des données de recensement de la population de l'ISPF

PF - Functional areas Halieutics of Raiatea-Taha'a Lagoon

Connaissances et gestion des zones fonctionnelles halieutiques du lagon de Raiatea-Taha'a

PF - Flora, fauna and vegetation study of Tahaa

Etude floristique, faunistique et de la végétation dans le cadre du projet écotouristique du site de Tiarere en baie de Vaipiti (Communes Taha'a)

PF - Sustainable organization of waste management in Raiatea and Tahaa

Définition d'une organisation durable de la gestion des déchets des professionnels de Raiatea et Tahaa

PF - Pressures anthropogenic and quality of the waters of the bay and river of Faaroa - Raiatea

Evaluation des pressions anthropiques et de la qualité des eaux de la baie et de rivière de Faaroa (Raiatea, Polynésie française)

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