Kiribati: As part of the Kiribati government’s commitment to achieving sustainable land management on Kiritimati Atoll (Christmas Island), staff of the Environmental Division recently undertook training in GPS and GIS, conducted by the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC).
Ratita Bebe, from Kiritimati Conservation Department, said, “We had six days in the field, gaining training and practical experience in data collection from our SOPAC colleague, Elizabeth Lomani-Whippy. Discussions between environment officers from Kiritimati and Tarawa identified beach erosion, mining, rubbish dump sites and oil spills as the main factors contributing to land degradation.”
SOPAC, which provides assistance to 19 island countries and territories in the Pacific region through applied geoscience and technology, was requested by the Kiribati government to carry out the training. Funding for the programme was provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
“I have just been in Fiji for a further week of follow-up training with SOPAC,” continued Bebe. “This work entailed collating and customising the data we collected, so that it can be used for planning and decision-making. We will continue to update and organise our databases.”
“Although there are about six thousand people living in Kiritimati, the island represents 70 per cent landmass of Kiribati. It is the largest atoll in the world. It is important that we plan for future sustainability of our land-use practices, and identify and correct any problems. The GPS and GIS training we received from SOPAC is key to helping us do this,” concluded Bebe.