PABITRA Contribution to APN Synthesis Meeting I

Dieter Mueller-Dombois (9/10/02)


3.2.3 Interactions between LUCC and Island Ecosystems


Land use and cover. changes are rapidly taking place and are proportionally large under the global change scenario in island ecosystems. Islands by definition are small isolated landmasses surrounded by ocean. Their biological resource zones (watershed forest, agroecosystems, fresh water and coastal saltwater ecosystems) are limited in size and biodiversity They are spatially close together and functionally interlinked. Together they form the traditional human support system. Therefore, these ecosystems should be managed and researched as holistic landscapes from mountain to sea for sustainability into the future.


Moreover, any development should be approached from an islands' cultural perspective. This requires respect for any evolved island culture and research by the natural and social sciences in an integrative manner. The Pacific-Asia Biodiversity Transect network, known as PABITRA, was initiated under these premises.


One PABITRA research venue is to do comparative ecosystem studies within the some major island biomes (upland/inland forests, agricultural croplands, and coastal zones) horizontally across the Pacific from the outlier islands of the Paleotropics to South-East Asia. According to biodiversity theory, the ecosystems belonging to the same biome types are expected to vary functionally from east to west because of their different biodiversities. Another research venue of PABITRA is to study the three major biological resource zones vertically from the island mountains to the fringing reefs. The significance of this approach is to involve Pacific islanders in interdisciplinary research and to gain a better understanding of the interaction of the three systems for integrated management.


Information will be presented in form of maps and profile diagrams at scales appropriate for management and policy. Management requires information at detail levels such as 1:10,000 to 1:50,000, whereas information for decision makers at the policy level requires information at the overview level of scale, such as 1:100,000 and smaller. Additional information will be presented in form of posters, illustrated brochures, technical reports, and scientific papers.


PABITRA is the program of the Ecosystem Division in the Biodiversity Task Force of the Pacific Science Association (PSA), which promotes cooperative research across the Pacific.  The goals coincide closely with those of APN. They relate to (1) regional cooperation, (2) providing scientific information to policy makers and island communities, (3) Involving Pacific islanders in all work aspects, (4) using standard methodology for biodiversity assessment and evaluation in island ecosystems, (5) being in contact with the global program DIVERSITAS and DIWPA (DIVERSITAS in Western Pacific and Asia), and (6) using the economy of scale in terms of the cost and research effort through partnership agreements.


A more immediate goal for relating APN sponsorship to PABITRA is planned for the 20th Pacific Science congress in Bangkok, March 17-21, 2003. Under the Biodiversity theme, PABITRA is organizing a symposium with the title "Island Landscapes under Global Change: the PABITRA Project." For further information please look at the PABITRA website  and also at the PSA Congress website .