The Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana, officially launched and declared formal gazettal of the Sirebe Forest Conservation Area (SFCA) as the First National Terrestrial Protected Area under the Protected Areas Act 2010.
The formal registration by gazette order of the Sirebe Forest Conservation has been successfully done on the 19th October 2019 and the formal declaration was done on the 26th November 2019 at the Sasamuga Village, Choiseul Province.
The Solomon Island Government is committed to sustainable management for its forests, marine and natural resources. To deliver on this commitments, the Solomon Islands Government through Ministry of Environment is today launching another new Protected Area to be protected under the Protected Areas Act 2010.
Sirebe Forest Conservation Area (SFCA) in Choiseul Province has 800 hectares of forest land that were customary owned by the tribal groups. SFCA is one of many local CBOs in the country who had successfully satisfied the Protected Areas declaration system.
The MECDM has also received an increasing number of communities and tribal groups submitted PA application who had shown commitments to sustainably manage their forest areas as source of their livelihood, cultural heritage and economical means.
The Minister notes that, “The signing of the Certificate of Registration duly declaring Sirebe Forest Conservation Area as a Resource Management Area- Category 4 of the Protected Area Act 2010 and symbolizes the fulfilment of the formal requirements and confirmation that Sirebe Forest Conservation Area stands now as a national beacon of conservation and natural resource management in Solomon Islands”.
This is a huge achievement not all for the country, but also for the Province and its people, and especially the tribes and clans that have taken the bold decision to go down the conservation and proper natural resource management path, when there are obviously other competing demands for the use of their forests.
“We have reached an important milestone of the conservation and natural resource management in Solomon Islands. It is a significant moment in time, as we formally recognize that Sirebe Forest Conservation Area is one of the first Forest areas (besides Siporae Tribal Forest Conservation Area) to be protected under the Protected Areas Act 2010”, said Dr Culwick Togamana.
“I want to assure you that my Ministry is committed to oversee the implementation of SFCA as mandated under the Protected Areas Act 2010. I do not intend for me or any other Minister responsible for conservation to suspend or revoke this conservation area for non-compliance to the stipulations of the Protected Areas Act” said Dr Culwick Togamana.
The Minister said, “To make this conservation area functional in line with its objectives, we need shared responsibilities requiring all tribal members, partners, conservation NGOs, Women representatives, the national and provincial governments and individuals to be actively involved to ensure its successful implementation and management so that we can all reap its benefits, and more importantly to ensure that the Sirebe rainforest protected area continues to serve your livelihoods, heritage and wellbeing now and into the future”.
The Solomon Islands Government through the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology (MECDM), Ministry of Forestry (MoFR) acknowledges the Tribal Chiefs and Leaders of Sirebe Community, Choiseul Provincial Government, Lauru Land Conference of Tribal Community (LLCTC,), Natural Resource Development Foundation (or NRDF), and developments partners, such as Bread for the World, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), Global Environment Facility FAO implemented through Integrated Forest Management (for technical and financial support), including individuals and experts who had rendered their support to SFCA various programmes for the past years.
Sirebe Forest Conservation Area Sets a positive model and will be a beacon of hope and strength to others who are on similar journey to committing to the responsibility of conserving and sustainably managing their natural resources, which we need very much in this country. As such, MECDM at this juncture welcomes communities, Provinces and NGOs or CBOs and even private parties to contact Environment and Conservation Division for more information on Protected Area.