28 Jun 2006

Call for Vanuatu to restrict access for foreign scientists on Mt Tabwemasana study

2:50 pm on 28 June 2006

Vanuatu's Director of the National Cultural Centre, Ralph Regenvanu, has cautioned the government not to give open access to more than 100 foreign bio-diversity researchers who will take part in a study on Santo Island's Mount Tabwemasana this year.

Mount Tabwemasana is Vanuatu's highest peak and is home to bird, insect and plant species not found anywhere else in the world.

Mr Regenvanu said the country does not have the necessary legal mechanisms in place to properly regulate such research.

The cultural centre's biggest fear is that in the absence of such mechanisms, these rare species could be stolen.

Mr Regenvanu said the National Environment Unit Act calls for the establishment of a Biodiversity Advisory Council and it has yet to be set up.

Mr Regenvanu said the council has to be set up before the foreign researchers arrive in order to monitor their activities.