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Would sustainable economic development coupled with tourism be a better alternative for Temotu province?

DEAR EDITOR, Radio New Zealand International (RNZI) carried a story, Thursday, May 25, 2017, which highlighted how communities in Temotu Province could greatly benefit from preserving their environment rather than through logging and mining.

This is the news slot that caught my eye and I quote.

“An environmental NGO says communities in Solomon Islands’ Temotu province can earn more from preserving their environment than through logging or mining.

“OceansWatch has been raising awareness in the remote province about potential impacts from bauxite mining and logging developments currently afoot.

“The Temotu government said the resource projects would bring sorely-needed development to the province.

“But the co-director of OceansWatch Solomon Islands, Chris Bone, said in the case of logging, local people would earn a pittance from their trees due to transfer pricing and middle men.

“They can make quite a lot more money from their forests, with sustainable development, than they can from logging and mining, so we are working hard to inform people about for example about the REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) +scheme for carbon trading. They can earn more money for just protecting their environment and signing it up for a carbon-trading scheme, than from logging,” said Chris Bone.

“In the case of bauxite mining, which is at the prospecting stage in Temotu, it would take a long time to rehabilitate the island of Nende from the ravages of mining.

“The land is the basis of food and water sources for most local people, something that the groundswell of local opponents to mining fear will be jeopardised by the bauxite project,” Mr Bone explained.

“OceansWatch had also sent people to Rennell Island in the neighbouring province of Rennell and Bellona to examine the impact of bauxite mining.

“And they have looked at the bauxite mining there and the topography and the geography where the bauxite is almost identical as it is on western Nende. We have looked very carefully, we have sent people there, we have made a film of it. We have seen the massive great holes in the ground filled up with water and now poisonous and disgusting and unsafe,” Chris Bone said.

“Mr Bone said there was a lack of awareness about not only the impacts of logging and mining, but also about what the better options were.

“Of those options, eco-tourism was an area that Temotu had huge potential in.

“The place is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a very, very special and very treasured place, and one of the last places in the Pacific that has this wonderful primary rainforest,” Chris Bone said.”

It makes sense to me for resource owners to make money from their forests with sustainable development via the REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degration) + scheme and carbon-trading.

I am not too familiar with the REDD scheme but understand there is an official already in Honiara to give advice on the scheme to resource owners.

I am assuming the REDD scheme is similar or the same as the Global Land Outlook (GLO) policy initiative led by the UNCCCD Secretariat to determine the future course of land policies and land management practices across the globe.

In terms of the GLO policy it argues that the adoption of more sustainable land management, rehabilitation and restoration, up till now largely untapped, would provide a rapid and low cost reduction in emissions that would not only help close the emissions gap but also provide significant co-benefits to the rural poor and other vulnerable communities.

The RNZI news bulletin didn’t mention the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which is an international non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. The FSC does this by setting standards on forest on forest products, along with certifying and labeling them as eco-friendly.

The FSC’s stated mission is to “promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests”. To this end the body has published a Global Strategy with five Goals.

Advancing globally responsible forest management, ensure equitable access to the benefits of FSC systems, ensure integrity, credibility and transparency of the FSC system, create business value for products from FSC certified forests and strengthen the global network to deliver on goals 1 through 4.

The FSC is known to be committed to maintaining or enhancing the social and economic wellbeing of local communities.

It occurs to me, therefore, that with advice and practical help from the FSC resource owners in Temotu Province could practice responsible forest management while using some of their trees for milling and generate income.

Chris Bone says “We are looking into helping local communities establish sustainable milling operations in Temotu under FSC management plans. With careful planning local communities can have it all! Some land can be set aside for biodiversity refuges, some for very low impact milling and other areas can be fully protected because of their high ecosystem values such as provision of reliable pure drinking water. All this can be achieved AND the income will be much higher than from logging.”

Mr Bone goes on to say that he feels “Temotu has a unique opportunity as one of the last untouched Islands in the Solomon’s. Nende can truly be a model for sustainable economic development and environmental conservation.”

Eco-tourism to Temotu should be greatly encouraged and the Temotu Provincial Government augmented with funds to really kick start tourism there.

Visitor numbers to the province are dismally low compared to other parts of the Solomon Islands, but the scenic beauty is outstanding and no time should be lost, I believe, to ensure the province and resource owners consider diverting to sustainable, income generating carbon trading deals to protect the forest and tourism replace developments that damage the environment.

 

Yours sincerely

FRANK SHORT

 



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