Solomon Star

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Feb. 22) - A small community in the Solomon Islands Western Province is doing something that no other community in Solomon Islands has done before.

[PIR editor’s note: Western Province is located northwest of Guadalcanal Province where Solomon Islands’ national capital of Honiara is situated.]

It is replanting mangrove trees on its shoreline.

According to landowner and initiator of the project Rumales Paoni, the replanting exercise will be done at selected coastal sites affected by logging around the Marovo Lagoon.

This was a much bigger and well-organized project than what some communities might have done before.

International Waters Program Solomon Islands, which is assisting the Buroku community, is treating the mangrove replanting exercise as a pilot project.

At the outset, this was a commendable initiative.

For we know that the number of mangrove trees in the country are dwindling at a much faster rate than we may have realize.

This was not only evident in Marovo, but also in most parts of the country.

For instance, if you travel along the north Malaita road, one will note that shorelines used to be covered by mangrove trees are now bare.

[PIR editor’s note: Malaita is the province located just northeast of the Guadalcanal province.]

Consequently, parts of the road that runs closer to the shoreline were washed away by rising sea levels, halting the flow of traffic during high tide.

Critics may be asking why waste time and resources into a project that will not generate any income?

This project however, is not about money, but about livelihoods of the people of Buroku community.

It is also about conservation.

Mangrove trees play a significant role in the eco-system.

They protect the coastline from erosion and provide breeding grounds for fish, crabs, birds and other living organisms, which contribute to diets of locals.

Equally important is the fact that mangrove trees provide strong and durable materials for locally built homes.

Mangrove trees are also the first lines of defense to coastal villages in the event of high seas.

So the mangrove tree replanting exercise now underway at Buroku community is not just a mere tree planting initiative, but about protecting people’s livelihood.

Many coastal villagers around the country have already experienced coastal erosion and the threat of sea level rise.

The mangrove-replanting project should be encouraged around the country.

February 23, 2006

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