Solomon Islands is a tropical Pacific Island nation located just south of the equator. Comprised of over 992 islands, it includes seven of the eight island groups of the Solomon Archipelago.
According to Solomon Islands’ National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan (NBSAP), the terrestrial (land) fauna and flora of all the larger islands in the Solomons are renowned for high species diversity and high levels of endemism, with the country’s rainforest eco-region being ranked as “globally outstanding” in a 1998 global analysis of biodiversity.
The biodiversity plan states that, not only do the Solomon Islands boast more restricted range and endemic bird species by area than any other place on earth, it is also home to the World’s largest skink, the World’s largest insect eating bat and hosts some of the World’s largest rats.
In the Marine realm, the Solomon Islands boast the second highest coral biodiversity in the world and was included as part of the Coral Triangle, a scientifically defined area of high species richness spanning almost 6 million square kilometers of the Indo-Pacific. The Coral Triangle is sometimes referred to as the “Amazon of the Seas”, and is considered an epicenter of tropical marine diversity on the planet.
The major threats to the Solomon Islands’ biodiversity are unsustainable logging, inappropriate land use practices and over exploitation of natural resources compounded by; natural disasters, population increase, invasive species, pollution and climate change. The resulting impacts are anticipated to be loss of habitats, extinction of species and degraded ecosystems.
What are ecosystems?
An ecosystem is a community of living things like organisms, plants and animals existing in a specific area and that interact with each other and with nonliving components of their environment (climate, water, soil, sun, weather) as a system. In an ecosystem, each organism plays a specific role. These living and nonliving components are regarded as linked by nutrient cycles and energy flows.
Ecosystems provide a variety of goods and services upon which people depend.
Climate change, overconsumption, demographic changes and activities and technologies that damage the environment are pushing Solomon Islands and our planet to its limits. Biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are essential for improving and sustaining human wellbeing. The biodiversity losses we are now witnessing is diminishing the potential for sustainable development in the Solomon Islands.
However, biodiversity only affects the function of an ecosystem.
The principles of ecosystem management suggest that rather than managing individual species, natural resources should be managed at the ecosystem level itself.
While there is no single way to effectively manage ecosystems, it is generally agreed that classifying ecosystems into ecologically homogenous units such as forests, coral reefs and mangroves to name a few examples, is an important first step towards effective management.
Community Based Resource Management
More than 80% percent of land in the Solomon islands and More than 90% of inshore coastal areas, islands and islets are under customary tenure. Under customary tenure systems particular groups of people (e.g. family units, clans or tribes) have primary rights to access and use these resources.
These rights are in principle, exclusionary, transferable, and enforceable. In Solomon Islands, community-based approaches build on these customary tenure and use rights as the foundations of efforts to manage resources.
By basing CBRM on the structures and systems that are already in place for governing within a community (e.g. customary tenure, chiefly system, other leadership arrangements etc.) management is more likely to be respected, complied with and fit that community’s particular situation.
In addition, there is currently a lack of financial and human resources at the government level to address resource management issues and enforce legislation in rural and remote community settings. The Solomon Islands Government is taking steps to address these capacity shortcomings; however it is recognized that the geographic expanse of Solomon Islands will always present a big challenge to centralized management (i.e. management by the national government).