BOTH mining and especially logging has taken a heavy toll on Solomon Islands environment and mining and logging operations and practices are continually mired by allegations of corrupt dealings, disputes, criminal activities and, increasingly nasty incidents involving traditional landowners and loggers, very often those with Asian connections and interests.
There can be a viable alternative to the extractive industry and this involves what is known as Carbon Trading (CT).
I will illustrate how a CT scheme already in operation in Vanuatu is conserving the natural environment, benefitting the land without any environmental or negative impact and is making the landowners a sustainable livelihood.
Here is a report that I have received following a field trip undertaken by Solomon Islander Eddie Pae who visited the Loru CT Project on the Vanuatu island of Santo in July this year.
“The Loru Forest Carbon Project is owned and managed by an extended family in the Loru community.
“The family consists of 5 main households and up to about 30 plus members in total and the land on which the project is situated belongs to the family.
“The area has been conserved as a conservation site. (Vanuatu Community Conservation Area).
“Previously the land there was grazed for cattle but grazing has been abandoned and the forest re-established again.
“The family concerned has been earning money from the carbon emissions from their trees since 2014.
“After I had an interview with the Chief and Lenny, the Administration Director of the project, they said they earned ~1,600,000 vatu (figure to be confirmed) per quarter. This amount is approximately equivalent to SBD$114,985.00 per quarter.
“This family opened several bank accounts to cater for the money allocated to different areas of work in managing the project. They also have a reserve account on standby for any emergencies. All the money is paid into different specific accounts, the family share the remainder amongst themselves equally.”
In concluding his visit to the CT Project, Eddie wrote, “I want to stress that the Carbon Trading Program involves a lot of work and people who are interested in the project must take note.
“It doesn’t mean things are hard but one needs to prepare to work on all the required documentations to prepare the way for the formation of the project to come into effect.
“Also in line with the program, there are different stakeholders involved in making sure the project runs smoothly and effectively and everyone concerned benefits.
“I would like to say that this is really the best kind of project for people living in small islands as it is very viable to conserve their trees / forests and earn good money out of it in the long term rather than turning to mining and logging for a one-time payment only.”
Eddie invites readers to have a look at a film he made of his study trip to the Loru Project in Santo, Vanuatu.
It is proposed that in conjunction with OceansWatch Solomon Islands, a CT project is established at Nende and another in Vanikoro with the necessary consent of landowners who have expressed an interest in participating in such a carbon trading venture.