BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
AHETAHA Water Conservation Association in East Are’are, Malaita Province making every effort count as they recently undergo a two days’ workshop on how to manage their protected natural resources.
The workshop was organized and facilitated by the Solomon Islands Environmental Law Association (SIELA) to support members of the Ahetaha Water Conservation Association (AWCA) on how to properly manage, regulate, and conserve their natural resources concerning the Protected Areas Act and regulations 2012.
AWCA Founder and Initiator, Eddie Haikau Huitarau said the workshop held from 28 to 29 December 2022 (last year) covered the Protected Areas Process, particularly step 8 which is on how to prepare and review the Association’s management plan.
On 29 March 2010, the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) passed the Protected Areas Act 2010. Two years later the Protected Areas Regulations 2012 were made. Both laws came into force on 27 February 2012. These two laws give the Minister for Environment the power to create protected areas of land and sea in the Solomon Islands.
Eddie said the Association is currently working on reviewing the Association’s management plan.
“Therefore, we see that there is a need to review and share the copy of the Ahetaha management plan with the management committee and rangers to review and make comments where necessary.
“In doing so, will help the drafter to make amendments following the inputs received from participants who took part in the review sessions.
“The workshop will also assist the Ahetaha Management Committee/rangers in incorporating their ideas/inputs in the draft management Plan, Compliance & Enforcement section, as well as to share Ahetaha revised Management Plan with the Management Committee/rangers to review before finalizing it,’’ he told ENVIRONMENT MEDIA.
On a similar note, the Association’s Project Coordinator and Facilitator, Ms. Kenya Kenieroa said the idea of the workshop is to ensure that information provided in the enforcement section of their management plan is consistent with the Protected Areas Act and Regulation
“Rangers were asked to review their primary roles documented within the management plan.
“The rangers also discussed openly the gaps identified, and note down lists of roles and power they think is missing or needs to be included in the draft management plan,’’ she said.
Meanwhile, Eddie added that Rangers also discussed and listed the activities they think should be categorized as prohibited activities & restricted activities in the reviewed Management Plan.
“For example, arrest, cease, detain, and confiscate any equipment or gear (fishing line, net) used in the commission of an offense in the PA or prohibiting of Collecting custom money from tambu sites, or Cutting of mangrove trees and more,” he said.
He said that the reviewing of the Ahetaha Management Plan is crucial because it allows space for the collection of new information to be inserted into the draft, as the local community has the best knowledge of the area and they are the ones to implement the plan.
He added that the inputs from the management committee and rangers is important to be considered here as they are the key person mandated to involve in managing protected areas.
He said therefore, they are encouraged to be closely involved in all the writing and editing stages of the reviewed management plan.
He said, at the moment, he is following up with the Government ministry and the Provincial Government to fulfill the remaining steps in the Protected Areas application process before making submissions to the Ministry of Environment to assess, investigate and decide on the outcome of their application.