DSCP: Please introduce yourself.
My name is Anselmo Lopes Amaral. I am the Marine Program Manager for Conservation International in Timor-Leste.
DSCP: How is CI involved in the Project? Where do you work?
Conservation International is a DSCP Project Partner in Timor-Leste. We are working in Nino Konis Santana National Park (see map below) and Atauro Island. We work with communities to create Locally Managed Marine Protected Areas and we help them set up guidelines and policies.
Project Location 1: Village of “Com” which is inside the Nino Konis Santana National Park
Project Location 2: Beloi, Atauro Island
We worked with the community of Com at the eastern tip of Timor-Leste to create a commmunity managed marine protected area. The community had already established a protected area and we worked with them to propose an expanded area.
DSCP: How are communities managing marine resources? Is there traditional management? Is traditional management different between sites?
Communities are managing their marine resources by protecting the habitat and its biodiversity (Community-based Marine Protected Areas). Currently those CBMPAs are managed through zoning schemes such as Core Zones or No Take Zones, Buffer Zones and Seasonal No-Take Zones. All CBMPAs are regulated by traditional law called “Suco Regulation” and inaugurated through a traditional ceremony called a “Tara-Bandu”
DSCP: Is there competition between neighboring communities over same marine areas? How is this regulated?
In some places other communities have fished in areas in an Illegal Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) way, so these communities created the CBMPA’s to protect their fish. So far, there is no issue in these areas related to IUU competition, because everyone shares the information on CBMPA. No one crosses (or violates) a Tara-bandu – these are binding. Each of the community CBMPAs has rules and regulations at the “Suco” or village level. These regulations are called “Regulamentu Suco” and are sealed by Tara-bandu. It applies to every community and this includes neighboring communities, as well.
DSCP: Is development threatening communities’ access to marine food sources? Are communities a threat to dugongs and seagrasses?
Atauro Island faces poor development planning from a government perspective. So far, the communities have not faced any significant issues in relation to this poor development planning. However, it will be a concern soon as tourism and more overseas investors arrive in the area. Poorly-managed boat traffic and anchoring practices by local fishers and fishing companies may affect seagrass beds and dugongs, as well as the coral reefs.
DSCP: How are you working with communities? How do you integrate traditional knowledge in your conservation work?
The project design was based on community needs. It aims to be responsive to community needs in a sustainable manner and align with government priorities. In the case of this project, both national and local government and communities are plying important roles in the whole process. CI created volunteer Community Conservation Groups (CCG), and we trained and engaging them in community organizing and facilitation in order to enhance their skills in organizing to do fieldwork in the communities. Local knowledge and traditional customs are very important. We should integrate and combine these things with the scientific information
DSCP: Do you have any advice about working with communities?
The three main pillars of successful conservation are: Government, Traditional Leaders and Community.