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HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS (5 June, 2024) — The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Solomons Islands Threshold Program, a partnership between the U.S. and Solomon Islands Governments, proudly joins the global community in celebrating World Environment Day 2024. This year’s theme, “Restore Our Earth” emphasizes the urgent need for collective action to address environmental degradation and to promote sustainable development. The MCC-Solomon Islands Threshold Program is dedicated to improving environmental resilience and economic opportunities for Solomon Islanders.

In alignment with World Environment Day, the program continues to foster environmental stewardship and sustainable practices within local communities. In Viru Harbor, Western Province, the program is supporting local partners to work alongside customary landowners to develop an internationally accredited forest carbon project. This work, conducted by local partner the Natural Resources Development Foundation, includes a biodiversity survey and training rangers to undertake a forest inventory to record the size and height of trees.

The threshold program approved more than 600-hectares of forested land, named the Sobehatunga Conservation Area, for the project last year. The forest inventory estimates the amount of carbon that is stored in the forest, contributing to an understanding of the role this forest plays in keeping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

MCC Resident Threshold Director Charles Jakosa said members of the community at Viru Harbor will also undertake workshops in land-use planning, fair benefit-sharing and governance.

“Our work is rooted in partnerships with local communities and organizations to create lasting, positive impacts on both the environment and people of Solomon Islands,” Mr Jakosa said. “Across all the carbon sites currently in Solomon Islands, the threshold program and our partners are working with community representatives and rangers from two communities, gathering close to 1,000 people to learn more about alternative ways to manage their forest resources that help preserve ecological diversity and set them up for sustainable sources of income.”

To date, 40 percent of those workshop attendees are women, highlighting the inclusive nature of the project, and ensuring that forest carbon knowledge is reaching across everyone in the community.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Forestry and Research Mr Richard Raomae said for decades, the land and forest resources continue to sustain the national economy, provide for rural livelihood needs and continue to sustain biodiversity and the quality of environment which we depend on.  “We depend hugely on land and forests for nutritious food, quality water, building materials, natural medicines, and other products including income to meet our daily needs and in our quest for economic development and livelihood sustenance, the rate in which we exploit our forest resources is substantially higher than ever,” PS Raomae said.

He added consequently the rate of land and forest degradations and deforestation is of major concern, therefore, the forest sector with the leadership of  the Ministry of Forestry and Research is making serious efforts to drive policies and actions on the ground, to minimise the impacts of forests developments and promote sustainable forest management practices that will enable our forest resources to continue to sustain the quality of the environment, income and our rural livelihoods.

PS Raomae said in the face of high level of forest exploitation, deforestation and forest and land degradation, the theme for this year’s World Environment  is befitting and timely call for a collective effort at different levels, from the land/forest resources owners, the national and provincial governments, NGOs and all stakeholders to come together and invest efforts to restore the degraded forests and continue to protect and maintain our forest environment. 

He said moving in this direction going forward, his Ministry is exploring to utilize opportunities for income generations and livelihood supports that is tangible, putting our support behind communities and tribes and organizations that venture into undertakings such as community based sustainable forest management, land use planning, conservation, forest carbon projects and livelihood support initiatives in the country. “As such, we recognize that strong collaborations and partnerships with MCC- Solomon Islands Threshold Program, JICA SFRMP, and the many stakeholders including organizations working on the ground such as NAKAU, NRDF, Live and Learn, TNC and others, who are investing tremendous efforts to drive policies and actions on the ground inorder to continue to maintain and restore our degraded land and forests for our survival and the survival of generations to come.”

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The forest carbon training is delivered in partnership with the Solomon Islands Government, including through the Ministry of Forestry and Research; and the threshold program’s implementing partners Nakau, Live & Learn Solomon Islands, and the Natural Resources Development Foundation.

The MCC Solomon Islands Threshold Program invites everyone to participate in World Environment Day activities and to contribute to the collective effort to “Restore Our Earth.” For more information, please visit www.sithp.sb

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