People from the Vuri clan of Babatana Ward in South Choiseul have celebrated the declaration of their Forest Conservation Area under the Protected Areas law last month.
The Vuri Forest Conservation Area (VFCA) – a forest of 574 hectares in size, is the fifth protected area under the Protected Areas Act 2010 in country. This brings the countries national protected forest areas to a total of 6,289 hectares, all located in Babatana Ward, Choiseul Province.
The achievement was made possible by joint efforts of Chiefs, Clan members and NGO partners for their leadership in protected areas management in Solomon Islands.
The Vuri Forest Conservation Area was legally gazetted, under the Protected Areas law, by the Minister of Environment on 21 March 2022 and was formally declared with the hand-over of the Protected Area Certificate to the clan.
The Certificate is a formal document that mandates the Vuri Forest Conservation Management Committee to oversee and implement its Management Plan within the site and to enforce the protected areas rules and regulations.
Congratulating the Vuri clan on this milestone achievement, Deputy Secretary Technical of the Ministry of Environment, Chanel Iroi, said this success was the result of the hardwork, commitment and leadership by chiefs, elders, members of Vuri Clan, along with their partners.
“The long-term engagement in this work will not be without its sacrifices and challenges. I am sure, you will remain true to your conservation goals and the values for biodiversity protection and upholding your cultural heritage for a sustainable future,” Mr Iroi said.
Iroi further thanked the Vuri clan and its leadership for their interest and commitment to protect and conserve their land and forest which forms an important ecosystem for wildlife and a natural preserver of their cultural heritage and most importantly is a gift to their future generations.
Conservation partners involved in the project the Natural Resources Development Foundation (NRDF), Ecological Solutions Solomon Islands (ESSI) and also the Integrated Forest Management Project (IFMP), a Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded, FAO Project through the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Forestry and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Other partners also included the Environment and Conservation Division, the Choiseul Provincial Government, Lauru Land Conference of Tribal Community (LLCTC), Babatana Chiefs and elders and other experts and individuals who have supported these initiatives and programmes for the past years.
The Government is confident that Vuri Forest Conservation Area will continue to prosper, along with others in Babatana Ward including the Sirebe Forest Conservation Area, the Siporae Tribal Forest Conservation Area and Padezaka Tribal Rainforest Conservation Area.
“With your common aspirations in protecting and sustainably managing your forest areas and lands, you will continue to inspire other tribal communities and groups to follow suit. Continue to tell the good stories and also your challenges, in implementing conservation work. This was not an easy journey and will always be challenging,” Mr Iroi said.
Iroi assured the gathering that the Ministry, through its Environment and Conservation Division is committed to oversee and regulate protected areas under law with the national goal to establishing the Protected Areas Trust Fund this year which will boost support to Protected Areas programs in the country while at the same ECD and its partners, will continue to support capacity building and provide technical support that sites need for effective management, compliance and enforcement efforts.