28 Jun 2006

Vanuatu centre seeks bio-diversity protection

7:15 pm on 28 June 2006

The Director of Vanuatu's National Cultural Centre says the country needs to set up an advisory council to protect its rich bio-diversity.

Ralph Regenvanu has cautioned the government not to give open access to more than 100 foreign bio-diversity researchers for 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, and with the global rise in bio piracy, Vanuatu should not be caught unprepared...

"There is a lot of incidence of biological diversity that's been identified using traditional knowledge of indigenous people, being used by large corporations without proper consent, getting development of products that are sold on the world market - money being made from these products and that money's not going back to the people who identified it using their traditional knowledge."

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