The Nguna-Pele Marine and Land Protected Area Network is a nongovernmental
organization which brings together sixteen indigenous
communities on the islands of Nguna and Pele in the central
Shefa province of the Republic of Vanuatu. The initiative promotes
the sustainable use of marine and terrestrial resources in over 3,000
hectares of community-managed reefs, sea grass beds, mangrove
forests and intertidal lagoons, coordinating a network of fishing
communities in conducting biological monitoring, environmental
education, waste management, and alternative livelihood projects.
The project has become a case study for best practice in community
marine conservation within Vanuatu and the Pacific islands for
its strategies of proactive conservation, resilient management, and
locally-appropriate awareness-raising.
The Republic of Vanuatu, an archipelago of 84 islands in the SouthWest
Pacific, has a population of over 220,000 people, 80% of whom
engage in artisanal agriculture and 77% in small-scale fisheries. The
islands of Nguna and Pele lie just north of the larger island of Efate,
and were home to approximately 1,100 people at the time of the
national census in 2000. The population is spread unevenly among
sixteen communities, ten of which are located directly on the coast;
these villages are no more than a three-hour walk from one another.
A hereditary paramount chief presides over each village, assisted in
governance duties by one or more lower chiefs. These chiefs largely
deal with the preservation and promotion of local custom. Day-today
affairs and administration of the community falls, however, to
democratically elected village councils, as is common in other parts
of Vanuatu. The councils are often themselves made up of several
specialized committees. The advent of this system can be traced
back to the influence of Christian missionaries in the 1870s, which
resulted in a reorganization of local social structures; a shift from a
clan-line elected system of governance to a hereditary royal-family
chiefly system.

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