Sonsorol State, Palau

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Sonsorol State, Palau

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Supporting resilience and natural resources

Sonsorol State comprises four islands – Sonsorol, Fanna, Meriil and Pulo Anna – which lie nearly 200 miles (322 kilometers) southwest of Palau’s main islands. They demonstrate strong land-sea connections, having diverse seabird and land crab communities – and they are encircled by majestic coral reefs.

The Sonsorol collection of islands once supported a flourishing community, built on generations of cultural and traditional knowledge, that aimed to live harmoniously with their environment and thrived on the natural resources provided by sea and land. However, hindered by the arrival of invasive species and the effects of climate change, only small communities remain. Their reliance on natural resources for their livelihoods leaves the economy in a precarious position.

Invasive rats have reduced seabird populations, significantly depleting rates of nutrient deposition, which in turn limits the productivity of the surrounding reefs. There are also invasive Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles that cause significant damage to coconut crops and other plants much valued by the local community.

A Voice from the Community

“Rats have infested our plants, including tuba. They threaten our food security and spread diseases. The community has been wanting – crying out for – this kind of project to happen. We will definitely benefit from the restoration of Sonsorol.”

— Nicholas Aquino, Governor of Sonsorol State, Republic of Palau

The Project

Whilst Sonsorol State cannot, by itself, change the future of worsening climate conditions, its communities can prepare for the effects of climate change by maximizing resilience within their natural ecosystems, agroecosystems, and their local economy. The removal of invasive species is a concrete mechanism by which Sonsorol’s communities can do just that. IOCC partners plan to remove rats from all four islands and establish controls for Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles in 2024 as an important starting point for recovery.

Project Partners & Funders

Island Conservation, Sonsorol State Government, United States Office of Insular Affairs: Coral Reef and Natural Resources Initiative, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Wanderlust Fund, and other anonymous donors.

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