Solomon Islands

New Protection for Endemic Species in the Solomon Islands

Project Cost: $375,156

Funding Raised: $375,156

$21.55 per acre (1 acre = 43,560 sq ft)

100% of your donation goes towards Conservation Action.

2X The Impact

Thanks to generous support from our donors, we have successfully reached our fundraising goal for this project.

Kolombangara Island in Western Province, Solomon Islands includes one of the best examples of montane cloud forest in the insular Pacific and harbors extremely high rates of terrestrial biodiversity. The presence of endemic, rare and Endangered species such as the Papua Ebony tree has made this a national and global conservation hotspot. The project includes the preservation of cultural sites, which is important for maintaining the heritage and identity of Kolombangara Islanders. The intact forests above 400 meters also provide critical ecosystem services, such as clean water for the roughly 6,000 people presently living on the island.

Rainforest Trust and local partners Solomon Islands Community Conservation Partnership and Kolombangara Island Biodiversity Conservation Association (KIBCA) seek $375,156 to create the 17,412-acre Kolombangara Forest National Park in the Kolombangara upland forest to protect critically threatened biodiversity and ecosystems. This will also provide sustainable and equitable benefits for the communities on the island.

Photo: Mt. Rano from the crater rim near Mt. Veve. Photo courtesy of Andrew Cox.

 

Fast Facts

Location:
Kolombangara Island in Western Province, Solomon Islands

Size:
17,412 acres

Key Species:
Papua Ebony (EN)

Habitat:
Montane cloud forest

Threats:
Illegal logging

Action:
Create the Kolombangara Forest National Park

Local Partner:
Solomon Islands Community Conservation Partnership

Financial Need:
$375,156

Price Per Acre:
$21.55

Total Carbon Storage (Mt CO2):
3,840,000

Biodiversity

Of the 85 bird species in the New Georgia Islands, 82 are found on Kolombangara, including 16 endemic to the island.

This includes the Island Thrush, Island Leaf-warbler, Pacific Robin, Kolombangara White-eye and Kolombangara Leaf-warbler. Endemic to the Solomon Islands, the Vulnerable New Georgia Monkey-faced Bat was believed extinct on Kolombangara since the 1970s, but was recently observed in July 2017. Its International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red-List designation was only recently downgraded from Endangered to Vulnerable based on this change to its range. Kolombangara also hosts diverse and endemic reptiles and amphibians, as well as species suspected to be new to science.  

Photo: Vulnerable New Georgia Monkey-faced Bat. Photo courtesy of Tyrone Lavery.
 

Challenges

The Kolombangara forests that are above 400 meters on customary lands are under constant threat from illegal logging incursions, with powerful political interests heavily invested in commercial timber extraction.

Community partners have organized well-publicised protests and filed court motions to block the extraction. Logging is still occuring, and community leaders are monitoring daily to ensure that these activities are kept away from cultural sites and below the 400 meter contour. Logging forests over 400 meters can lead to extreme soil damage, habitat destruction and permanent loss of biodiversity. Clearing Kolombangara’s upper forests could drastically increase sedimentation rates in rivers and affect downstream water quality. Logging is also highly likely to impact bird species that migrate for breeding or feeding between upland and lowland areas.  

Photo: Vavanga protest of logging. Photo courtesy of Ferguson Vaghi.
 

Communities

A large proportion of the island’s residents trace their ancestry back to one of five major tribal groups.

While there are roughly 6,000 people living on the island, none are thought to reside within the proposed protected area. A large proportion of the island’s residents trace their ancestry back to one of five major tribal groups. However, non-resident landowners continue to hold rights over the land and must consent to any protected area developments. KIBCA conducted community consultations in 2016, meeting with over 750 indigenous landowners with tribal links to 81 villages across the island and around the province. They also conducted a major consultation meeting for Kolombangara descendants in Honiara, the capital city of the Solomon Islands. The purpose of the consultations was to provide background information to communities and gauge their attitudes about both the concept and benefits of developing a national park. The findings show that 98 percent of responses were supportive of a protected area for Kolombangara’s upper forests.  

Photo: Photo courtesy of Stacy Jupiter.
 

Solutions

Rainforest Trust and its local partners seek $375,156 to create the 17,412-acre Kolombangara Forest National Park in the Kolombangara upland forest.

This will protect critically threatened biodiversity and ecosystems, while also providing sustainable and equitable benefits for the communities on the island. KIBCA rangers will map the boundary of the proposed protected area that will be discussed during formal consultation meetings, and will include it in the management plan. They will also obtain letters from the Ministry of Forestry and the Ministry of Mines, showing there are no logging or mining licenses in the proposed area, as well as from the Commissioner of Lands to show if there is any privately-owned and registered land in the proposed area. Rangers will patrol the perimeter of the national park once it is established, and they will hold regular awareness sessions in the communities to develop mitigation plans and discuss any issues.   (Photo: Photo courtesy of Ferguson Vaghi.)