BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
A project that aims to farm and manage trees at Kolokisu in Aruligo, North West Guadalcanal now takes shape as part of efforts to tackle and mitigate the effects of Climate Change through planting trees.
The Climate Change Mitigation project, which is a partnership between Isi Akson Theatre Art Trust (Inc.), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), have helped to turn 6 hectares of grassland, much of which has previously been used to graze livestock in the early 80s and 90s, into a natural environment teeming with planting variety of tree species and farming activities.
Planting trees helps to reduce levels of CO2 and is seen as a central part of the climate crisis solution.
Founder of Akson Theatre Art Trust (Inc.) Patrick Frances Kekea told environment media that more than 6,000 varieties of trees have been planted by the organization since the project was the establishment in 2014.
“Currently members of Isi Akson have been engaging in planting trees, so far we have covered 6 hectors which comprised of mahogany, eucalyptus, Melina, and other local species,” Kekea said.
He said from 2014 since Isi has engaged in this project Isi has 8 years of experience in farming and managing trees.
“We have learned from observing trees and knowing trees that grow well and fast in such grassland area and species among them that are slow in growing;
“We also acquired experience in a number of factors affecting trees growing in grassland and ways in which we could make improve farming of trees in such grassland region in the future.
“We also learned putting out a fire using water-storing plants because water is so scarce in the area;
“We also learned about the challenges we have faced and the need to extend the planting of trees to cover more areas of land within the region and assist other Community Members on tree farming activity.
“We learned the need of other services to be provided within the forest farm from the request to build an accommodation for Solomon Islands University Students studying forestry subject at Kolokisu afforestation Camp to able them spent time on doing research and practical field training on supporting their classroom learning requested by their Lecturer Mr. Hendry,” he said.
Over the next year, the project will create causal employment opportunities for participating families and youth Community Members of Isi Akson obtained income to help them finance their needs especially the project focus on the need of parents to pay their children’s school fees.
It’s hoped the project will not only boost natural forest and agriculture farming in the area but also help in the fight against climate change.
As well as increasing the educational learning for Isi Akson Community Members in the area on afforestation work have knowledge and skills obtained.
He described the long term benefits of the project will create the following:
“An avenue which is a Community Environmental, Afforestation/Reforestation Development resources Learning Centre for communities in the area and people of Solomon Islands have access to observe and have knowledge developed in the Centre.
“The project will increase the level of live improvement and growth of 6,664 trees planted that increases level of biodiversity, community sustainable livelihood and resilience resources; for example:
- Increase the level of CO2;
- Increase level of awareness knowledge about the key role forests play for sustainable life on our planet the functions of forests fulfil for people, cultural, ecological, economic and social;
- Increase the knowledge of forests and all their values with products, activities, and deepening the understanding among youths;
- Increase capacity knowledge and understanding of students reach a higher degree of environmental maturity, irrespective of age, stage, and previous experiences; Increase environmental education concerning forests and all their values among school children in the area, Guadalcanal Province, and the Solomon Islands as a whole through the action;
- And increase Isi Akson’s climate change educational awareness supporting its drama medium in the community, Guadalcanal Province and the Solomon Islands.”
According to Mr. Kekea the aim of the project which is funded by the UNDP – Global Environmental Fund small grant program is designed for small island countries to mitigate climate change.
He added that the project had cost SBD$3000, and most of the funds has been diverted for the operation of the project.
“The fund has gone especially to women and youths that engaged in the project and which result in the more than 6,000 trees which are now 20-30 meter high.
“Basically the site was a bear grassland and now it becomes a forest. The trees are now 20-30 Metres in height, and thanks to UNDP,” Kekea said.
He highlighted that their experience in tree planting can assist individuals and organizations who wish to undertake similar projects.
“Since we start with planting trees we are now experts in tree planting where we can and are eligible to assist and help communities if they want to plant trees.
“Isi Akso also has a drama team where we reach out to the rural communities in the Solomon Islands to do awareness to our people about climate issues that are faced in the communities.
“Now it’s not only about talking or planning, but it’s time to act. Talking is another way to spread the news, however, are we putting the thoughts into action?
“Therefore to back up our awareness about climate change, forest, and our environment, we are visualizing the experience through dramas.
“ Not only talking about it, do something about it, you know people not only gain knowledge by hearing, or not only in the classroom but people can also learn by seeing things when put into action.
“I really believe, for us here in the Solomon Islands, people are good at what we normally term as look and learn. Usually, it widens and increased people’s mindset rather than talking about it.
“The more people had workshop and training; they will see what action you are doing, and they then can pick up from there,’’ he said.
Isi Akson is a community-based organization that is comprised of more than 300 members from the West Guadalcanal and Weather Coast region on South Guadalcanal.
The organization was formed in 1990 and was registered as a charitable organization and member of the development service exchange (DSE) the umbrella body of NGOs in the Solomon Islands.
The organization is an offspring of Solomon Island’s Development Trust’s (SIDT) theatre which was formed in 1988 from an initiative development idea on using community or popular theatre in raising educational awareness about problems and issues affecting the lives of people, and their communities in the Solomon Islands that can be better understood by both literate and illiterate people was needed.