After achieving its independence in 2002, Timor-Leste promptly recognized its responsibility to steward its waters, which lie in the Coral Triangle - the global center of marine biological diversity. Since becoming a sovereign state, Timor-Leste has become a signatory of The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Arafura and Timor Seas Expert Forum (ATSEF), Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) and the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI).

To back up these commitments with action, Timor-Leste has conducted scientific studies, including habitat mapping and ecological gap analyses, to generate baseline information that will help to identify important areas for conservation. As a result, Timor-Leste has reported that it will launch small MPAs in three major areas: Nino Konis Santana National Park, Batugade,and Atauro. Seven marine protected area sites have been identified within the Nino Konis Santana National Park, which was declared a protected area in 2007. These includes Com,Tutuwala, Jaco Island, Lore, Mehara, Muapitine and Bauro. These protected areas are slated to become part of a larger marine protected area network in the Lesser Sunda Islands.

Hopefully these initiatives will help to mitigate the impacts of identified threats -such as erosion and sedimentation, particularly mangroves and riparian vegetation, from deforestation, illegal and destructive fishing, population growth and climate change-to coastal ecosystems. In that way, Timor-Leste can work toward meeting its higher-level goals of conserving biodiversity, achieving food security, creating sustainable fisheries and securing critical services from coral reefs and related ecosystems.

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Marine Area (km2)


MPA Area (km2)


Number of MPA


Coastline (km)


Coral Reef Area (km2)


Mangrove Area (km2)