PABITRA Activity 2003

The Pacific-Asia Biodiversity Transect Network is a program of the Ecosystem Division in the PSA Task Force on Biodiversity. Its aim is to collaborate with resident Pacific Islanders on biodiversity research and ecosystem conservation. Its research strategy is two-fold: to encourage comparative studies across Oceania in ecosystems that belong to the same biomes (the horizontal strategy) and to study selected island landscapes from the mountains to the ocean (the vertical strategy). After establishing the “Gateway Transect” in Fiji during 2002 and conducting the PABITRA Symposium/Workshop on “Island Landscapes under Global Change” in Bangkok, March 2003, PABITRA received new funding from APN, the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research.

During 2003, PABITRA activity was focused on Samoa. An Initial Synthesis Meeting was arranged by Dr. Nat Tuivavalagi at NUS, the National University of Samoa in Apia, in June 2003. This was followed by a Joint Analysis and Biodiversity Field Training Workshop in Samoa from November 25 to December 5, 2003. It began November 25 with Dr. Art Whistler presenting an illustrated talk on the flora and vegetation of Samoa. The open forum continued all next day with PABITRA related presentations. They included three experts each from Fiji and Samoa, one each from Guam and Japan, and five from Hawai`i. These meetings drew about 40 participants, many of whom got involved in discussions. The following week was spent in Savai`i with a group of ten pre-selected Samoan students and government officers and ten overseas collaborators. Here, we visited three mountain-to-ocean landscape transects, designated as Matavanu, A`opo, and Taga. We also visited the twice hurricane-disturbed Falealupo forest preserve at the NW tip of Savai`i. We stayed two nights each in three coastal villages, where we were received with welcome ceremonies by the villagers. We explained the PABITRA objectives to them, and thereafter received permission of access to their lands.

In the field we discussed and exercised a number of biodiversity assessment techniques at different locations to provide a first hands-on experience for the students. The landscape approach to biodiversity assessment via ecosystem entitation was clarified in the field by interactive heuristic procedures. A last full day was spent at NUS, writing and presenting reports. In a closing ceremony Certificates of Participation were handed to the ten Samoan students and government officers after they had given a short oral presentation on their learning experience during the workshop.

This workshop is now summarized on an illustrated two-panel poster on the PABITRA website It is found here under Joint Analysis Workshop together with a student report by Mila Misa. A follow-up report on the 2002-2003 PABITRA activities, which was presented at the DIWPA meeting in Kyoto end December 2003, is found under Background Papers and Information.

Dieter Mueller-Dombois
Chair of Ecosystem Division
in the Biodiversity Task Force
of the Pacific Science Association

Last Updated: 01/09/2004