Padakeza Rainforest Declared a Protected Area

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Another conservation achievement is up for applaud – the launching and declaration of the Padezaka Tribal Rainforest Conservation Area as a legally designated National Protected Area.

Tuesday morning this week, Sasamungga Village hosted yet another conservation achievement for the country.

Benjamin Harrison, Premier of Choiseul Province, officiated the launching and declaration of another forest area under the Protected Areas Act 2010, on behalf of the Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Bradley Tovosia (who was unable to attend due to the present situation in Honiara).

The protected area covers more than 4,800 hectares of forest, and forms a portion of the Padezaka Tribal land in Babatana Ward, South Choiseul, and Choiseul Province. This forest area now becomes the third forest protected area (by law), and also the largest so far, in the country.

Delivering the speech, the Premier praised and commended the chiefs, elders, and members of the Padezaka Tribe and partners for their dedication, leadership, and commitment to conservation and sustainable development. “Your dedication for this journey is truly admired and hope you continue to be a ‘lighthouse’ to other communities and resource owners who share the common goals of protecting and sustainably managing their natural resources” he stated.

He also acknowledged with appreciation, the technical and financial support provided by Integrated Forest Management Project (IFMP), Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded Project implement by FAO through the Ministries of Environment, Forestry and Agriculture. Since 2018, this project through the leadership of Mr Fred Tabepuda (IFMP Choiseul Field Coordinator), guided and supported by partners such as Natural Resources Development Foundation (NRDF) and Ecological Solutions Solomon Islands (ESSI), who have worked hard to achieve the protection of Padezaka ’s tribal forest. He also thanked the National Government through Ministry of Environment’s Division for Environment and Conservation, Choiseul Provincial Government, Lauru Land Conference of Tribal Community (LLCTC) and Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund who supported these initiatives and programmes throughout the years.

The ceremony was highlighted with the handing over of the Certificate of Protected Areas Registration signed by the Minister of Environment to the Chief Godfrey Gatarukusa of Padezaka Tribe. This symbolized the fulfilment of the formal requirements and confirmation that the forest area now stands as an officially designated national protected area. These declared sites will remain out of bounds for all destructive activities including logging and mining etc

The area will now be managed by the Padezaka Protected Area Management Committee and its rangers, guided by the site’s management plan under the Protected Areas Act 2010. In addition to other four declared sites, these sites remains pillars for conservation and protection of our significant natural biodiversity and cultural values.