Kolonia, Pohnpei - On January 31 the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP) gathered for its annual meeting. Bill Raynor was the Master of Ceremonies. He said that at the end of its first year CSP's accomplishments were somewhat small. Essentially, during that year, CSP had garnered commitments from a few of the municipalities to clean up trash twice a quarter.
Current Executive Director Patterson Shed who followed Willy Kostka nearly two years ago said that CSP has come a long way since its inauspicious beginnings. Former Director Kostka built the Conservation Society into an organization that was providing real and meaningful value for the conservation of Pohnpei's resources.
Patterson Shed, according to Board Chair Eugene Pangelinan has grown into the position. He is continuing in the footsteps of his renowned predecessor. CSP now has nineteen employees who Shed called "heroes", every one of whom is pulling his or her own weight in the organization in their own specialized areas. Shed, in his presentation for the evening showed that CSP is not sitting on its laurels but is working every day to be sure that Pohnpei's environment is preserved and conserved. In this small space there is no way that we could list all of the accomplishments and goals of CSP.
Shed pointed out that 16% of species in Pohnpei are endemic species. The slide presentation he gave included a representation of some of Pohnpei's endemic species including: 110 trees, 56 birds, 25 species of terrestrial tree snails, 3 species of fish, and the skink. He said that Pohnpei has the lowest dwarf cloud forest, the largest intact lowland tropical forest in the Pacific and the largest grouper spawning and aggregation site in the Indo-Pacific region.
Those, among other things, are what CSP is working to preserve. Besides the presentation of the ongoing work of CSP, one of the highlights of the annual meeting was the presentation of awards. CSP staffers voted for three recipients for special awards from amongst themselves.
The award for the most innovative employee went to Meileen Albert. Linson Neth earned the award for best attendance and good health. The soft spoken Eugene Joseph, who coordinates the marine conservation programs of CSP won the award for outstanding staff member of the year
Konrad Englberger from the Secretariat of the Pacific Islands won an award as the outstanding partner of CSP. Shed said that Konrad often went into the forest with CSP to be sure that species they said were eradicated actually were eradicated.
Dakio Paul who was unable to attend due to health reasons won the award for outstanding community member for his work at Black Coral. Dakio Paul has been internationally recognized for his work and was the subject of an article published by Conde Naste Magazine.
CSP also recognized the efforts of several community members who helped them to raise over $2100 at a concert of students from Warren Wilson College in Ashville, North Carolina. The concert was held at the auditorium of Pacific Missionary Fellowship. Tickets were $10 per person and all proceeds went to CSP. Shed recognized Bob and Patty Arthur of The Village Hotel, Nob Kalau of PMF, Visual Impact and the Vicariate of Pohnpei.
Shed said that CSP has already raised approximately 80% of its budget for 2008, a budget that now stands at approximately $600,000. The money that has been raised has enabled them to run programs in three areas of conservation: terrestrial, conservation education and awareness, and marine conservation.
There is still more work to be done. Money is not the goal but money helps to make it possible for those that are doing the work to continue doing it.
Contact the Conservation Society of Pohnpei if you think you can help.