Public comments sought on 10-year conservation plan

By Dennis B. Chan - Saipan Tribune — Nov 25 2014

The CNMI's Division of Fish and Wildlife is looking to stakeholders in the community for their help in planning next year's 2015 CNMI Wildlife Action Plan.

Last set in 2005, next year's plan, expected to finalized by late next year, will improve on the plan 10 years ago and aim for a "transparent, objective, and inclusive" approach to terrestrial and wildlife conservation in the CNMI for the next 10 years, according to DFW's Peter Perez.

Perez spoke at last week's Asian Pacific Academy of Science on behalf of Jill Liske-Clark, conservation manager at DFW, who heads the project.

Perez said the plan would be the "conservation roadmap" for the CNMI. Between conservation for game species and conservation for nearly extinct species, the plan would be for species "in the middle," Perez said.

"For all those species we see who are not game animals, do we have to wait for them to be extinct before we do something about them?" he asked.

The grant funding the plan, he said, targets non-game species to prevent their extinction.

The plan would come with a list of species with the "greatest conservation need," according to Perez.

Population size and trends, the range of a species, their reproduction potential, and how specialized they are in their niche would be looked at to create biological rankings for these species.

Under the plan, a species like the Mariana crow, Mariana common moorhen, or the Tinian monarch would be ranked for "vulnerability." Also, "threats" like invasive vines or volcanic activity would be ranked according to their potential impacts on these species.

In preparing the plan, Perez said, DFW is asking three questions: What species most need help? What actions can the CNMI take to help these species? And what are the recommendable goals for the next 10 years or longer?

"We want everyone to participate. For this to work, you do need everybody to participate. We need to be able to make the right decisions," he said.

He said the plan hopes to pool the agencies at the CNMI state level and all non-governmental agencies in conservation work that complement each other.

He said they are looking forward to more stakeholder involvement this year than 2005's plan.

He said Liske-Clark would meet with agencies, stakeholders, and people in the community to get public and expert input.

The plan, according to Perez, would cover all CNMI's islands, and their terrestial and marine wildlife.

The State Wildlife Grant Program funds the action plan or the "CNMI Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan/Strategy."

Liske-Clark can be reached at liskeclark.cnmidfw@gmail.com.