Mr. Jackson Kiloe, Premier of the Choisuel Province
By Josephine Navula, journalism student at FNU
5 December 2013, Suva Fiji - A project to protect the rainforests of Solomon Islands’ Choiseul Province from being exploited has become a model for nature conservation in the country, said the province’s premier, Mr. Jackson Kiloe.
Speaking in Suva on Day 3 of the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas, Mr. Kiloe said the project demonstrated the kind of success that was possible when a community and its government work in unison.
“(The Choiseul project) is initiated by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change,” he said.
“We approached the government holistically and ensured that everyone participated equally; landowners and the partners to all talk together about the Choiseul project and, fortunately, SPREP and SPC thought it was a good idea.”
The community leaders met in January this year to discuss their concerns, and then appealed to the Government for support. The Government approved their recommendations in August.
Mr. Kiloe said the onus of protecting their forest resources was pertinent because logging at the present rate could mean the loss of their forests within five years.
“Logging in a sense is not bad,” he said. “It has (taken place) in the Solomons for a long time, and most of the places that have been logged have been replanted, while most of it has just grown naturally.”
He added that the project was valuable because everyone in the affected community was required to participate in discussions.
SPREP’s ecosystem-based adaptation expert Mr. Paul Donohue said the project was being carried out with other partners, mainly at the community level, to look at climate change-related issues.
"In the Solomon Islands, we are facing difficulties because still people are signing up to logging, so primary forests are being cut down, when we are trying to grow them,” he said.
“We are also urging all the villagers who live near the sea to plant a lot of mangroves and at the same time we are promoting the role of mangroves, and the value of forest as a whole.”
Josephine Navula is a member of the Media Team providing coverage of the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas from 2 to 6 December in Suva, Fiji. This is a partnership between the Fiji National University (FNU), University of the South Pacific (USP), SPREP and Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) whereby a team of 10 journalism students are mentored by senior reporters as they cover the conference. This activity is funded by the Pacific Assistance Media Scheme (PACMAS).