Leaders battle imbalance between conservation and development

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Participants of the Integrated Forest Management Project Provincial Inception workshop held at the Mendana Hotel on Wednesday.
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BY LYNTON AARON FILIA

 

DEFORESTATION and climate change affect sustainable dependency of Solomon Islands’ communities on traditional agro-forests and subsistence fishing for food and livelihood needs.

Over the years, there has been an ongoing tug-of-war between conservation and development in Solomon Islands although the country has pledged to battle national issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Despite the challenges, the government through Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, and Disaster Management (MECDM) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) have held an inception workshop with Guadalcanal provincial officials yesterday.

The workshop was hosted purposely to introduce to the province and the participating communities project ideas and to inform participants the rationales and linkages to the national development efforts, frameworks and polices.

During the Integrated Forest Management Project Provincial inception workshop held yesterday, MECDM’s Permanent Secretary Dr Melchior Mataki said there is an imbalance between conservation and development.

He said development has taken priority over and above conservation which has resulted in natural resources sector particularly terrestrial resources being in a dire situation and in need of resuscitation.

“What is clear as well is that people and institution are both source of imbalance as well as the fulcrums to rebalance conservation and development and between planning and doing for now and the future,” Mataki said.

Hosting the inception workshop with GP officials is part of the Ministry’s action plan with responsible authorities together with the GEF as a way forward to rebalance conservation and development.

Assistant Food and Agriculture Organisation for Solomon Islands Mrs Rosemary Kafa said they have worked with the SIG in a project to address consequence of unsustainable land and natural resource management.

She adds, FAO is also supporting government to look at addressing logging practices and related land malpractices which impose rapid loss of critical forest ecosystems.

Meanwhile, Solomon Islands forests provide multiple benefits to its population but not limited to protection of critical water resources, prevention of soil erosion, timber and non-timber forest products as well as important contributions to local food security and family health.

The country’s economy is heavily dependent on its timber industry, which brings in about 15-17 percent of government revenue and 67 percent of foreign exchange earnings.

Despite its importance, the country’s 2014 timber harvest (2.1 million cubic metres) was approximately seven times greater than the recommended sustainable harvest levels.

Poorly conducted logging operations currently have major negative impacts socially especially landslides destroy farms and cause conflict between communities.

And also environmentally, it imposed negative impacts with the increased of GHG emissions, siltation of coral reefs, degradation of forest ecosystem services and biodiversity, fragmentation of critical habitat.

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