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EditPhoto Title:Timor-Leste’s Nino Konis Santana National Park
EditPhoto Description:Co-management of sustainable fisheries and coral reefs empowers communities in Timor-Leste
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EditImage Description:Fisher in Timor-Leste
EditPhoto Credit:© UN Photo/Martine Perret
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The world’s third youngest country, Timor-Leste is facing extreme humanitarian, development and environmental challenges. ​

Timor-Leste is a small island nation in the midst of the Coral Triangle that boasts exceptional biodiversity and vast natural resources, including extensive fisheries and healthy​ coral reefs.

This rich stretch of sea between Asia and the western Pacific Ocean includes some of the world's richest marine biodiversity — and provides food security and livelihoods for more than 130 million people. Timor-Leste is also one of the newest nations in the world, becoming independent in 2002 after nearly three decades of conflict. Preserving the country’s natural resources should be central to infrastructure and economic development plans to ensure the continued prosperity and health of local Timorese communities.

Our role

Since 2010, Conservation International​​ has been working with communities and the government in Timor-Leste to establish the first successful model of co-management of natural resources. This model aims to equip the government and local communities with the necessary tools to manage marine and coastal resources that offer direct sustenance to ​fishing communities and that ​hold economic potential through ecotourism and improved access to markets. Fringing reefs and mangrove stands also provide important protection for coastal communities during natural disasters.

CI is specifically working to improve management of the Nino Konis Santana National Park — particularly known for its rich marine biodiversity — in order to improve local food security, fight climate change and enhance livelihoods for local community members. In 2012, we helped establish the first no-take zone in the park, to be co-managed by local communities working in partnership with the Timorese government. No-take zones are critical in allowing fish populations to replenish and in protecting turtle breeding grounds. And they can be used as dive sites for ecotourism and scientific research.

Our plan

CI has had the opportunity to work with three coastal communities within the national park — Com, Tutuala and Lore. In order to complete a climate-resilient marine protected area network in the park, two additional sites must be established in Mehara and Maupitine. We are strongly committed to working collaboratively with all five national park communities to improve conservation and co-management of the park.

Each of the coastal communities requires additional support to create sustainable livelihoods associated with the use of marine and coastal resources. CI is developing strategies with the communities of Com, Tutuala and Lore and aims to conduct similar exercises in Mehara and Maupitine. CI is also working with national government authorities to support the establishment of a holistic national park management plan, which encompasses both coastal and upland communities.

In Timor-Leste, the land and the sea are inextricably linked. The coastal communities have strong connections with upland communities, resources and ecosystems. We aim to expand our work to directly address the land-based threats to marine ecosystems and improve land management practices for the benefit of upland communities.

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EditImage Alt Text:Nino Konis Santana National Park in Timor-Leste.
EditTitle:By the numbers
EditSubtitle:123,000 hectares under improved management
EditText:We have worked to establish improved management and community-government co-management of  123,000 hectares (304,000 acres) spanning both land and sea in Timor-Leste’s Nino Konis Santana National Park.
EditPhoto Credit:© World Wildlife Fund, Inc. / Matthew Abbott
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    First Image

    EditImage Alt Text:Night falls over Rio de Janeiro. © Nikada

    Second Image

    EditTitle:Science and Innovation
    EditImage Alt Text:Scientists set a camera trap.
    © Benjamin Drummond

    Third Image

    EditTitle:The Ocean
    EditImage Alt Text:Coral reef in Viti Levu, Fiji, Oceania. © William Crosse