Micronesian island of Kosrae: the largest -- and last -- ka forest on the planet.
It is a sight that few in the world will ever have the chance to see, and it's a must-view for anyone who happens upon the tiny Micronesian island of Kosrae: the largest -- and last -- ka forest on the planet. These majestic, towering trees, scientifically known as Terminalia carolinensis, flourish in the Yela Valley of Kosrae, an undisturbed wetlands with perfect growing conditions for this majestic tree.
Several conservation groups recently achieved a milestone in making sure part of the 1,400-acre valley will remain undisturbed for generations to come. In March, the U.S. Forest Service, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, put together a $550,000 grant to purchase a conservation easement.
It's now held by the Kosrae Island Resource Management Authority.
Conservation easements, in which a landowner retains title to the land but agrees not to exercise development and other rights, is a promising conservation tool in Micronesia because they fit in traditional island cultures where usage rights traditionally overlap. The forests remain in the family, passed down through the generations.
This model keeps the ownership in the family while allowing sustainable traditional harvest and use of the natural lands, yet also prohibits future development and resource exploitation.
"It is very important for the people of Kosrae to protect the Yela ka forest because it gives the people of Kosrae a sense of pride for having something unique," said William William, Project Manager of the Yela Environment Landowners Authority (or YELA an organization formed by the family landowners).
The local families sought expertise from The Nature Conservancy to establish a legal conservation framework for their land. They've also added their own innovation by opting to use the proceeds to create an endowment that will ensure the forest's long-term conservation.
This new model of conservation unites local families, the Kosrae government, conservation groups and the federal government to protect this biologically rich part of the world.