BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
THE Ministry of Environment through its conservation division have been supporting communities and groups undertaking conservation initiatives over the years to date.
This was confirmed by the Deputy Director of conservation within the Ministry of Environment and conservation, Mr Josef Hurutarau in an exclusive interview.
He said that currently, the Solomon Islands have five legally protected areas under the Protected Areas Act 2010 and they are Padezaka tribal land, Siporae, Sirepe, Vuri and Arnavon marine protected sites between Choiseul and Isabel province.
He said that the four sites namely Padezaka tribal land, Siporae, Sirepe and Vuri which are mainly terrestrial areas are in Choiseul province.
Mr Hurutarau said that the recent group to be declared Protected Area under the protected Areas Act is Vuri forest Protected Area in Choiseul province.
He said that some conservation sites are just community-based conservation areas and a lot of them are yet to be registered.
“So, we have been supporting these conservation groups as well as the community-based areas with their set up programs with small grants,’’ said Hurutarau.
He stressed that the conservation division has encouraged such pro-active programs with the aim to enhance the community’s capacity to be aware of the importance of looking after their resources and managing them.
“Whilst we encourage conservation we also provide alternatives, particularly in terms of livelihood programs to support resource owners looking after their resources,” he said.
He told environment media Solomon Islands that a lot of tribes across the country have been expressing their interest to go into conservation.
“When we talk about conservation it has two sides of it, one is for people to look after their resources and the fact that they depend on it for their survival,’’ he said.
He said that those who express their interest to venture into conservation should go to their office so they can work together and support them.
“Some processes that often delay communities to reach the PA are, a clear map of the proposed PA, management plan, and biodiversity study of the area, endorsement from the Provincial government, the Ministry of Mines, Forestry, Ministry of lands, and tribes and chief to ensure the proposed site is clear in terms of land ownership and boundary.
He said these are some of the areas that can be time-consuming before declaring the proposed site for protected areas.