Ahetaha Rangers Trained to Care for their Natural Forest

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OVER the past years, native forest rangers of the Ahetaha Water Conservation Association in Manawai Harbour in east Are’are, Malaita province have sacrificed their conservation and management skills to protect their forests.

Earlier this month from May 9 to 11, seventeen (17) forest rangers ( five females and 12 males) gathered for a ‘Forest Enrichment training workshop’ which aims to revisit and restrengthen their capacity, vast knowledge, and skill in forestry conservation and management.

The practical training workshop aims to equip the rangers with the important knowledge, skill, and approach to community tree replanting.

Group photo of participants and facilitators participating in the the training. Photo by Felix Naitoro

Ahetaha Water Conservation Association (AWCA) Founder and Advisor Eddie Haikau Huitarau described the training to ENVIRONMENT MEDIA as a whole new experience for the rangers in the particular region of Malaita province.

“The key message aimed at training participants is to restore their forest, watershed, and mangrove ecosystem for a greener future that requires encouraging all rangers to take action and be part of a solution by planting just one tree for the future.

“The training workshop mainly focused on nursery and wilding seedlings, nursery establishment and management, tree planting and maintenance and was facilitated by three Rangers of Wai-Hau Conservation Foundation, Mr. Joe Kai, Mr. Nicholas Raroi, and Mr. Raymond Hoahaniia.

AWAC Chairman Mr. Dick Takaramu planting a Akwa seedling during the practical session along the Ahetaha water conservation area. Photo by Eddie Huitarau

“This is part and parcel of the broader rollout of the local rangers and will support the preparedness efforts of AWCA rangers’ work and resourcing their respective ranger’s daily operations,” Eddie said.

Likewise, AWCA’s Chairman, Keith Hatamane said the ‘forest enrichment training project’ is an innovative achievement for the people of Ahetaha.

“This training has been a dream for the people of Ahetaha for a long time and I am glad to inform everyone that it was through the vision of our Founder (Eddie Haikau Huitarau) that this dream is now realized and eventuated,” the Chairman said.

On day 2 of the training workshop, the rangers had an opportunity to utilize their knowledge and skills learned from the workshop through a practical session. They were instructed to identify suitable mother trees and to clear their surroundings, the aim is to prepare a site for seed collection or natural regeneration and later for transplant into a nursery site.

Left to Right: Ahetaha women rangers, Ms. Lynnie Hoasirao, Mrs. Joyce Kauraena and Mrs. Jean Hatamane doing a group presentation on the importance of Tree at Ahetaha conservation village. Photo by Eddie Huitarau

As a result of the practical activity, the rangers also had an opportunity to plant 160 mangrove seedlings, 10 bamboo stalks, and 150 native species mainly Akwa (Pometia pinnata) and Ba’ula (Calophyllum Peekelii). 

Meanwhile, a local ranger, Mirriam Haroka on behalf of all the participating women rangers thanked the funders and facilitators 3-day workshop.

“We are so happy and proud that this project has now come to reality and now we witness different methods of transplanting of wildings. He explained the project was initiated because of the dire need to replant and restore pioneer ephemeral (or short-lived) nurse trees in the degraded sites.

“We are grateful indeed for the partnership with Wai-Hau and AWCA where we learn different methods of Production of planting materials including; Seed collection from readily available sources and Seed collection from identified superior mother trees,” Mirriam said.

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