The Nguna-Pele Marine and Land Protected Area Network is a nongovernmentalorganization which brings together sixteen indigenouscommunities on the islands of Nguna and Pele in the centralShefa province of the Republic of Vanuatu. The initiative promotesthe sustainable use of marine and terrestrial resources in over 3,000hectares of community-managed reefs, sea grass beds, mangroveforests and intertidal lagoons, coordinating a network of fishingcommunities in conducting biological monitoring, environmentaleducation, waste management, and alternative livelihood projects.The project has become a case study for best practice in communitymarine conservation within Vanuatu and the Pacific islands forits strategies of proactive conservation, resilient management, andlocally-appropriate awareness-raising.The Republic of Vanuatu, an archipelago of 84 islands in the SouthWestPacific, has a population of over 220,000 people, 80% of whomengage in artisanal agriculture and 77% in small-scale fisheries. Theislands of Nguna and Pele lie just north of the larger island of Efate,and were home to approximately 1,100 people at the time of thenational census in 2000. The population is spread unevenly amongsixteen communities, ten of which are located directly on the coast;these villages are no more than a three-hour walk from one another.A hereditary paramount chief presides over each village, assisted ingovernance duties by one or more lower chiefs. These chiefs largelydeal with the preservation and promotion of local custom. Day-todayaffairs and administration of the community falls, however, todemocratically elected village councils, as is common in other partsof Vanuatu. The councils are often themselves made up of severalspecialized committees. The advent of this system can be tracedback to the influence of Christian missionaries in the 1870s, whichresulted in a reorganization of local social structures; a shift from aclan-line elected system of governance to a hereditary royal-familychiefly system. 

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