BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
Mai-Maasina conservation group (MMGB) from Malaita Province had recently completed a look and learn trip with Western and Choiseul province conservation associations.
The trip was organized to provide an opportunity for various conservation reps allied under MMGB to visit protected areas, obtain and enhance perspectives on the working context made by Sirebe Tribal association.
The Sunday 3rd October to 20th October trip was made in partnership with Aelanlife photography film alongside Solomon Island Rangers office together with Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.
Mr. Eddie Huitarau, Solomon Island Ranger association’s General Secretary said the two conservation groups recently being visited are the Babatana Rainforest Conservation Project and the Sirebe Tribal Association.
He told environment media Solomon Islands that both have made history by becoming the first landowner group in the Solomon Islands to commence trading under a forest carbon project according.
“Under the Babatana Rainforest Conservation Project, Sirebe Tribal Association has committed to protecting their forest by establishing an 836-hectare protected area with 16,990 tons of CARBON CREDIT annually for a start.
He said that early this month, Sirebe Tribal Association started receiving the financial benefits of carbon sales, which will support community development and create jobs among the community.
He said the Mai-Maasina Green Belt is proud to be the first environmental organisation to take a visit and do look and learn trip at Sirebe.
“The trip was supported and funded by Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund – a small grant implemented by MMGB, focusing on the look and learn trip activity to conservation sites with Protected Area status and declaration,’’ added Huitarau.
He said that the trip was described as a worthwhile opportunity that brings substantial information for MMGB Conservation rangers.
He said the knowledge and skill obtained from the trip will definitely increase the visiting team to get maximum benefit so as to further their conservation aspiration.
One of the visitors, Mr. Alick Kingz- Chief of Kira Tribal and MMGB Elder said the trip was an eye-opener and he thanked MMGB for organising the learning trip whiles thanking CEPF for funding.
Mr. Huitarau said Mr. Kingz also acknowledged the Solomon Islands Rangers office for facilitating the basic rangers training on-site.
“Kingz said technical skills obtained from Siborae Conservation rangers were beneficial for the visiting team.
“Though we are only coming from behind we can sense that this trip does really create in us the belief that we are not alone as far as rangers are concerned. We are a member of a big conservation family determined for one common goal,” he quoted.
Another member of the team Joyce Kauraena shared similar sentiment saying that the technical skills learned during the trip were new for her especially the basic skills in doing Forest inventory readings and calculation to find the cubic stand of your own tribal land.
“She said she learned lots of things but one that stood out is the importance of having biological and species baseline data of your own tribal land.
“This training was timely and relevant as such a time and with the information provided through the trip, she feels that her work will improve,” Huitarau said.
MMGB Chairman Max Totorea applauded NRDF, Gizo office for accepting the request sent by the MMGB office to assist them with the trip’s activities.
“Your support means a lot for the eight conservation groups who are in a Protected Areas process.
“I think it’s good to learn from Sirebe’s experience so that we do not repeat the same challenge and at the same time we learn from them”, he said.
The team also have the opportunity to visit some of the various Resorts, Eco-lodge, Forest plantation, and conservation sites like; Fatboys Island Resort, KFPL, Kolombangara Island Biodiversity Conservation Association (KIBCA), Imbu Rano Mountain Lodge, Kundukudu Island Locally Marine Managed Area (LMMA) and Zaira Tribal Conservation.
According to Eddy Huitarau, the trip was a success story for Mai–Maasina Green Belt.