Maldives celebrated the International Day for Biological Diversity for the first time on 22 May 2002. Several activities were organized to mark the day and to make people aware of the importance of biodiversity and the benefits we derive from it. The activities also highlighted the threats facing our limited biological resources.
Activities carried out to mark Biodiversity Day included:
- Billboards identifying the protected birds, were placed at various locations in the capital city, Male'. The purpose was to inform the public that the capture, sale and captivity of these rare and threatened birds are prohibited.
- A poster depicting our rich marine and terrestrial biological resources and a poster of the protected birds was also published on this day and distributed freely to all government offices, private and public schools, and NGOs throughout the country.
- The Environment Research Center, Marine Research Center and Aminiya School, jointly organized an awareness seminar on biodiversity from the 22-23 May 2002. The objective of this seminar was to promote awareness among students about biodiversity and its importance to our existence, including a general assessment of the knowledge on biodiversity related issues. A total of 65 students from 11 different secondary schools of Male' participated in this seminar. In addition, 5 teachers of Aminya School and 4 officials form the Environment Research Center and the Marine Research Center attended the seminar. It was a great success, as the participants felt they gained a lot of information and realized the importance of preserving our biodiversity. The participants decided to create their own biodiversity campaign to promote in their schools. At the end of the seminar, all the participants took an oath to upkeep, protect and conserve the Biological Diversity of the Maldives.
- A booklet on Biodiversity was published and distributed freely. The booklet covered aspects of biodiversity such as: The broad nature of biodiversity, The importance of biodiversity for humans, The threats to biodiversity, What we can do in order to conserve and protect biodiversity.
- The local radio and television station and the 4 local newspapers covered the day's events. A special report on biodiversity was telecast on the evening news.
Maldives is known to have rich marine biodiversity, inevitably much of our economic activities are based on these natural resources. The Government of the Maldives is taking necessary steps at the national level to ensure minimal damage to our environment from development activities and to promote sustainable use of the resources. In 1998, Maldives commenced work on its National Biological Diversity Strategy and Action Plan with financial assistance from the Global Environment Facility. In addition to this, the Maldives Protected Areas System Project co-funded by the Australian Government and the Government of the Maldives is underway to develop a management plan to mange and sustainably use protected areas.
A number of globally and locally threatened marine species such as turtles, whales and whale sharks, black coral, dolphins, pearl oysters, stony corals, eels, skates and rays, parrot fish, bait fish, trochus shells, triton shells, and puffer fish have been declared as protected species. Furthermore, twenty-three birds have also been declared as protected species. To date, the government has designated 25 marine species sites and two islands as protected areas.