$340,000 in Grants for Education, Health and Conservation Programs in the Insular Territories

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Washington D.C. – The Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Tony Babauta, has awarded $227,600 to the American Conservation Experience in American Samoa, $99,033 to The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Micronesia Program and $14,000 to the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance (MINA).

The grants will be used by both organizations to continue efforts by government and non-governmental agencies across Micronesia to strengthen capacity and promote awareness of natural resource protection and management.

“From coral reefs to forests, islanders across Micronesia have depended for centuries on their local natural resources for food and cultural practices. Increased harvest of these resources, pollution, and other destructive practices are threatening many of our most valuable and important natural resources. We must find a way to sustain these resources for future generations,” said Babauta.

MINA will use the funds to work in partnership with Rare, a conservation organization that works to build support for conservation through its Rare Pride program, and other non-governmental organizations to help address the decline of fish stocks in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.  MINA will work with local communities to gather marine resource data in and around Garapan to help track the health of local fish stocks and promote awareness of the factors that may be contributing to the recent declines in the most important marine species.

The grant will be used by TNC to continue regional efforts to achieve the goals of the Micronesia Challenge.  Launched in 2006, the Micronesia Challenge is an inter-governmental initiative in the western Pacific region that seeks to balance resource use today with resource protection for future generations.  TNC will continue its ongoing effort to assist the region in identifying priorities for conservation through their Conservation Action Planning, building local capacity, and measuring progress toward achieving the goals of the Micronesia Challenge.

The American Conservation Experience is a program that hires American Samoa youth to assist in the removal of the invasive Tamaligi and Red Seed trees and reclaiming 2,000 acres of ecologically vulnerable rainforest. The program aims to teach the youth about job skills and expose them to resource management career paths.