Solomon Islands: A Model for Forest Conservation

A local family in Tetapare. © Christophe Rouziou
A small island in the South Pacific is a treasure to behold.

Tetepare Island in the Solomon Islands is the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific.

Legends and records suggest that the entire population left in the mid-1800s due to an outbreak of disease and headhunting occurrences among tribes.

The pristine island harbors thriving rainforests, coral reefs and mangrove swamps, complete with nesting beaches for three species of turtle, including the critically endangered leatherback turtle.

Descendants of the original inhabitants of Tetepare are now settled throughout the Western Province. For Tetepare’s landowners, the island and surrounding waters represent both an important cultural legacy and a potential sustainable source of income from the rational harvesting of renewable resources.

However, the aggressive logging that has decimated the Solomon Island’s forests has proven a persistent threat.

To avoid imminent commercial logging on the island, the landowners formed the Tetepare Descendants’ Association (TDA), which now has over 3,000 members.

To make conservation attractive to its members in light of persistent cash offers from loggers, TDA has initiated projects – such as a community ecolodge on Tetepare and provision of scholarships to schoolchildren.

TDA’s conservation model is one that CI believes can help catalyze conservation of many of the remaining intact forests in the Solomon Islands, to the long term benefit of landowners.

The model, in which landowners choose conservation over commercial resource extraction, in order to receive direct benefits requires both national capacity building and increased, focused international support. CI has made these goals the focus of its efforts in the country and around the world.

View our photo slideshow, Conservation Stewards of Tetapare Island.

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