Solomon Islands gets its first protected area

In May this year, the Solomon Islands Government declared its country’s first ever protected area, the Arnavon Community Marine Conservation Area in the Arnavon Islands. The Arnavon Islands is the biggest breeding ground for critically endangered hawksbill turtles in the South Pacific. EDO NSW is privileged to have been able to play a role in this historic development for environmental protection.

By EDO NSW International Programs Coordinator BJ Kim

6 July 2017 

So how did EDO NSW come to be involved in this fantastic outcome for environmental protection in the Pacific?

EDO NSW works with partners throughout the Pacific as part of our International Program. 

The Arnavon community has been working to protect their marine areas since 1995, and has made great strides in reviving the number of Hawksbill sea turtles. During our recent visit to Solomon Islands, the Arnavon community told us that that they had used our Protected Areas Toolkit to prepare their application for the Arnavon Islands to be declared a protected area. We developed the Toolkit in 2014 with one of our key partner organisations in Solomon Islands, the Landowners Advocacy and Legal Support Unit (LALSU) within the Public Solicitors Office. One of our Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID), Adam Beeson, drove the project in the Solomons during his placement within LALSU.

Staff at the Solomon Islands Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology (MECDM) also told us that, in approving the Arnavon Community Marine Conservation Area, they had used processes developed with the support of one of our other AVID volunteers, Elizabeth Cotterell, while on assignment with MECDM in 2014. 

EDO NSW’s Elaine Johnson meets with community members in the Solomon Islands

EDO NSW’s Elaine Johnson meets with community members in Solomon Islands in the lead-up to the production of our Protected Areas Toolkit.

The use of our International Program’s practical resources by both community and government to achieve such an important declaration of environmental protection confirms the value of the strategic approach taken by our International Program in Solomon Islands and across the Pacific. We focus our work on helping our partners to achieve specific objectives, such as the declaration of protected areas, and on building the capacity of both civil society and government around the objectives identified.

The declaration has been the result of more than 20 years’ work by our partners in Solomon Islands towards improving laws, garnering political support and, importantly, helping local communities to see the value in and support the declaration. The formal declaration of this protected area is a significant milestone in the community’s efforts to protect the unique and biodiverse environment of the Arnavon Islands.

About our International Program

Our International Program is focused on developing the capacity of environmental lawyers and environmental law organisations across the Pacific to help communities in the Pacific use the law to protect the environment. We provide multidisciplinary support (including governance, litigation, policy and law reform, outreach and scientific) across a broad range of environmental issues affecting Pacific communities. Learn more about our International Program.

We are currently working with the Public Solicitors Office which is assisting residents of Wagina Island (not far from the Arnavons) in their challenge against a large bauxite mine proposed on their island.

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