USAID/NRDF complete Climate Project in Solomon Islands
Choiseul, Solomon Islands: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently marked the completion of a partnership that has promoted environmental and community resilience in the Western and Choiseul Provinces of Solomon Islands. Through the project, USAID and NRDF trained and assisted eight Solomon Islands communities in sustainable forest management practices to ensure that the forest does not lose its productivity and environmental benefits for the people.
The partnership also supported communities to identify two forest conservation sites, covering 1,627 hectares, to the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology. The proposals if approved by the national government will be among the first terrestrial protected areas in the country. The move is fully supported by the tribes who are the legal owners of these forests, considered as customary lands in the Solomon Islands.
In February 2015, USAID, through its Pacific-American Climate Fund, collaborated with the Natural Resource Development Foundation (NRDF) to assist villages to sustainably manage their forests and reduce their vulnerability to floods, droughts and other extreme weather events.
“The U.S. government is proud to work with Solomon Islands communities to sustainably manage their threatened forest resources and, more importantly, to protect those most vulnerable who depend on these natural assets as they face their increasingly unpredictable future,” said U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, Catherine Ebert-Gray.
A United Nations study in 2009 had sounded the alarm that the country’s natural forests will be completely logged by 2020 if unsustainable commercial logging continued unchecked. Since then, the government has been working to expand its protected area system to conserve the country’s threatened forest resources.To provide villagers with alternative source of income, USAID and NDRF introduced beekeeping to ease the pressure on forest resources. The partnership also supported the establishment of microfinance through women’s savings clubs by organizing workshops and providing the necessary materials such as passbooks, ledgers, and safety boxes where the money is kept. “The savings allowed my family to start new businesses,” Iulyn Kapi said. Kapi, 30, a woman from Boeboe village, is the beekeeping project coordinator and chair of the women’s savings club in her community. NDRF is looking to replicate its projects in other provinces in the Solomon Islands, and to advance government policy on natural resource development.
In the Pacific Islands, USAID works with national governments, the private sector, academe, and nongovernment organizations to advance sustainable and resilient development. USAID assistance in the Pacific Island region covers 12 nations: Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, and Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.