Villagers in Viru Harbour embrace carbon credit education under MCC-funded project


In an endeavour aimed at both environmental conservation and sustainable economic growth, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has collaborated with the Solomon Islands government to introduce the concept of ‘carbon credit’ to the residents of Viru Harbour in the Western Province.

Viru Harbour holds the distinction of being the inaugural recipient of Threshold Program support within the larger Forest Value Enhancement Project (FoVEP).

The overarching Forest Value Enhancement Project (FoVEP) is strategically designed to amplify the reliability and sustainability of benefits derived from the Solomon Islands’ national forest resources.

In addition to addressing the challenges of climate change, the project seeks to enhance economic opportunities while safeguarding the invaluable forests for future generations.

At its core, FoVEP is driving a shift toward more sustainable and economically viable forest practices, thereby creating non-logging income streams for local communities.

An integral aspect of this endeavor is the exploration of carbon credit opportunities.

Communities that meet the viability criteria, including the presence of substantial forest carbon stocks, are considered eligible for carbon projects.

Susan Sulu, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of National Planning and Development Coordination, highlighted the essence of the project during a yesterday’s media briefing.

She explained that the concept involves a ‘payment for ecosystem services,’ wherein compensation is extended for preserving untouched ecosystems.

“For instance, forests play a pivotal role in acting as carbon sinks by absorbing carbon dioxide.

“Carbon credits are accrued by leaving trees standing, allowing them to continue their role as carbon sinks rather than being felled, which would disrupt their ecosystem value,” she added.

Furthermore, the project under FoVEP seeks to foster partnerships with local communities and explore alternative livelihoods that deviate from extractive logging practices, which contribute to deforestation.

MCC Resident Threshold Director, Charles Jakosa, elaborated on the concept of carbon credits, likening it to the value of a tree when left untouched.

He emphasised that while trees possess timber value, the process of harvesting and utilising them incurs expenses.

“Carbon credits, however, account for the value of the tree’s carbon storage capacity, particularly pertinent in the context of global climate change and the urgent need to curtail carbon emissions,” he said.

Jakosa noted that companies, including airlines, are increasingly interested in carbon offsets.

“Airlines, notorious carbon emitters due to their high-altitude emissions, are actively seeking carbon neutrality.

“By investing in carbon offset projects like forest preservation, these companies compensate for their carbon emissions, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable planet,” he added.

The FoVEP Project’s collaboration with Viru Harbour landowners has yielded approval for the Preservation of Ecosystem Services (PES) project spanning over 700 hectares of registered land.

This initiative will not only shield the area from logging but also ensure a continuous and sustainable source of income through the region’s substantial carbon stocks.

Viru Harbour, susceptible to the impact of climate change, including rising sea levels, is home to the last remaining lowland forest in the Western Province.

The project’s implementation is facilitated by the Nakau Programme, Live & Learn Environmental Education, and the Natural Resource Development Foundation.

These organisations are steadfastly supporting Viru Harbour landowners as they transition toward forest preservation and carbon capture, thereby forging a new path toward sustainable livelihoods beyond traditional logging practices.

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