NES is working to establish the Takitumu Conservation Area as an Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measure (OECM).
What is an OECM? An Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measure is a geographically defined area other than a Protected Area, which is governed and managed in ways that achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in-situ conservation of biodiversity, with associated ecosystem functions and services and where applicable, cultural, spiritual, socio–economic, and other locally relevant values.
NES met with the TCA Coordinating Committee and traditional landowners of the three Ngati (Tribes) – Ngati Kainuku, Ngati Karika, and Ngati Manavaroa, on the evenings of 1st and 2nd November 2023. The meeting sought to improve the understanding of OECMs, obtain full consent from the three Ngati, and confirm information that NES has populated into the OECM assessment tool before progressing to the next stage.
The TCA is a fitting pilot OECM for the Cook Islands, as it meets the OECM criteria, as a community conserved area, with set boundaries, clear goals and a long-term management plan of species and habitat conservation.
The TCA is a community conserved area where landowners and supporting partners have worked tirelessly for over 30 years to bring the endemic Kākerōri bird (Rarotonga flycatcher, Pomarea dimidiata) back from the brink of extinction, primarily through predator control efforts.
Ana Tiraa, from Ngati Manavaroa, stated ‘this meeting has inspired me and given me pride on the work we have been doing up there at the TCA’.
As a next step, NES will form a working group with members of the three Ngati and the Coordinating Committee to finalise information in the assessment tool that meets the OECM criteria and obtain final consent. NES applauds the hard work of those involved in restoring the kākerōri population over the years – their efforts have led to an increase in population from 29 birds in 1989 to over 600 in 2023.
NES would like to thank SPREP, and the ACP MEA-3 project, UNEP-WCMC and IUCN Oceania for their ongoing support in furthering OECMs in the Cook Islands.