News Release

National Park Service and Republic of Palau Announce Formal Partnership for Sustainable Visitor Use and Tourism Planning

Seven men stand behind a table and chairs under a thatched canopy
Palauan and U.S officials celebrate the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries during a ceremony at Ngardok Nature Reserve in Palau April 12


News Release Date: April 15, 2022


WASHINGTON - The United States National Park Service (NPS) and the Republic of Palau announced today an official partnership for sustainable visitor use and tourism planning. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed April 12 during a ceremony at Ngardok Nature Reserve in Melekeok State, home to the largest body of freshwater in the Micronesia region and a variety of species native to Palau. The site will serve as the marine pilot site for sustainable visitor use planning framework, that will then be applied to other sites in Palau.

Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Keone Nakoa participated in the ceremony, which was led by Paramount High Chief Reklai Bao Ngirmang, Palau Minister of Finance Kaleb Udui, Jr., and the Governor of Melekeok State Henaro Polloi.

“I am incredibly honored to partner with the Republic of Palau to share knowledge and wisdom between our countries on sustainable visitor use and tourism planning, said NPS Director Chuck Sams. “We look forward to sharing our experience with them as we learn from the Palauan people about their traditional and cultural knowledge.”

The NPS will use its 100-year experience in park management to assist Palau with managing their protected area network and planning for future visitor use. The project will consist of both a marine and a terrestrial site for initial planning, with the NPS and Palauan team working together to develop a decision-making framework for both areas. The NPS will then provide training to Palauan managers on how to apply the information to make future decision related to tourism and sustainable visitor use. The Republic of Palau is a leader in climate change and marine protection, and the NPS will use the knowledge gleaned from their expertise to inform planning and management of island and marine sites within the United States national park system.

“The Palauan people have honored our connection to our islands and the oceans for generations. The environment is a component of our culture and the protection of the environment started with our ancestors and continues with us. Our combined knowledge will ensure that our most cherished places are protected from human use and environmental changes well into the future,” said Melekeok Paramount High Chief Reklai Bao Ngirmang.

The Republic of Palau and the United States share an important relationship under the Compact of Free Association. Over 80% of Palau’s national waters make up the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, one of the largest marine protected areas in the world. Based on traditional cultural wisdom of conservation, the Sanctuary was created to protect habitats that are critical to the community’s food security and helps protect endangered species worldwide.
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube

Last updated: April 15, 2022