National-level awareness campaign to champion dugong and seagrass conservation (TL4).
Dugongs are protected under the Marine Protected Species Act, and reference to their endangered status is made in the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). The NBSAP describes the importance of seagrass ecosystems not only as the primary habitat for dugongs and many fish and shellfish species, but also as a protective barrier for coral reefs against sedimentation. However, the people of Timor-Leste, including the decision-makers, are largely unaware of dugongs, their status, and the importance of seagrass ecosystems to the coastal environment.
TL4 aims to address lack of awareness as the main barrier to the conservation of dugongs and seagrass and their importance to the ecosystem. TL4 will develop and implement social marketing and innovative environmental education campaigns, targeting communities and citizens.
TL4 will design a “Tool Box” of materials and media to illustrate the importance of dugong and seagrass habitats, explain the benefits to local people, outline options for protection, and communicate dugong and seagrass related laws and regulations to target groups. Community festival events will also be used to generate awareness, and periodic evaluations will be undertaken to assess the impact of campaigns on local people.
The project will also develop syllabi and outreach materials that will be integrated into curricula to initiate changes in attitudes and behaviour towards dugong and seagrass conservation, and will strengthen the capacities of community police forces and stations to increase their understanding of the issue.
Furthermore, TL4 aims to nominate and train a National Dugong Ambassador who will broadcast the conservation message both in the country and abroad, and to offer instruction to trainers on dugong and seagrass conservation.
- Develop, test and launch the bespoke “Tool Box” of media materials (in Tetum and English).
- Develop and incorporate syllabi and outreach materials into school curricula.
- Complete both basic and advanced training and further capacity-building for prospective trainers.
- Appoint and build the capacity of a national dugong ambassador to represent the dugong and seagrass campaign in Timor-Leste.
- Carry out an awareness-raising campaign illustrating the importance of dugongs and seagrass.
- Lobby the Timor-Leste government and obtain approval for becoming a Signatory State of the Dugong MoU.