Kosrae’s Protected Places

Trochus Sanctuary

The trochus sanctuary was one of the first protected areas on Kosrae. Set up originally as a reserve to provide a protected place for the introduced trochus snail to grow and reproduce, it has been tentatively identified as an important spawning ground for a number of reef fish.

Blue Hole Clam Sanctuary

This area on the reef and several other sites were established as protected areas for the Tridacna species of giant clams.

Utwe – Walung Marine Park

Utwe Walung Marine Park Entrance Sign

The Marine Park grew out of the landowners desire to develop sustainable income generating methods for their land.

The primary idea has been to focus on ecotourism, including education on the mangrove and reef ecosystems and their importance to the island and the community.

Activities such as hiking, kayaking, walking tours and outrigger canoe tours were established. This area includes the excellent snorkeling areas on both sides of the Utwe harbor and the site of the wreck of the Bully Hayes ship, the Lenore.

Picnic Huts at Utwe Marine ParkBay Facing UWMP Visitors CenterUtwe Channel Entrance Kristin Richards Photos

Utwe – Walung Biosphere Reserve

Utwe Walung Biosphere Sign

It has become increasingly obvious that these mangroves provide critical habitat for spawning fish and their juvenile stages. As a result the community decided to set aside an area within the Marine Park as a no take zone. The Biosphere pilot project was established in 2005 and it is too soon to determine the results.

Even though fishing is not allowed, recreational and educational activities are permitted, so it is possible to explore this amazing ecosystem by kayak or canoe.

Kayakers Enter the Utwe Walung Marine Park Biosphere

Reading the Utwe Walung Marine Park Biosphere Sign
Kayakers entering the Marine Park Biosphere at low tide and pausing to read the sign.

Lelu Awane Marine Park

Awane Marine Park Picnic Hut

A small reclaimed area bordering the Lelu Marina and Lelu Harbor, it was originally seen as an area where habitat could be established for juvenile fish. With a number of small picnic huts, complete with barbeque pits, the Marine Park has become an extremely popular venue for family parties and picnics. The small use fee goes toward facility maintenance.

Yela Forest

Yela Forest has not yet been declared a protected area. The Yela Forest area includes the only intact stand of Ka trees (Terminalia carolinensis) in the world. The landowners are developing a management plan for the area and have recently opened the site visitors. As you can see from Kristin Richard’s photos, the adventure includes massive quantities of mud, but the spectacular forest makes the journey worth the cleanup!

Yela Valley Entrance
Crossing Mud Field
Yela Forest Edge
A Forest Giant
Another Forest Inhabtitant
Massive Ka Dominate the Forest

The Terminalia are the trees traditionally used for ceremonial outrigger racing canoes. They thrive in the freshwater swamp at the foot of the mountain that borders on the mangrove swamp protecting the coast. The water exchange between the forests is essential to the health of both. There is the possibility of a road going through this area, which threatens both the mangrove and terminalia.

Developing Projects

Tafunsak Village has recently declared the Okat Channel as a pilot Marine Protected Area. This area, rich in juvenile fish habitat is a popular snorkeling site.

Lelu Village is considering additional areas that should be protected in the harbor and near shore areas.

Malem Village is also investigating the need to protect some of their reef and watershed.