Losing the forests and mangroves that protect us from the impacts of climate change

New vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment of the threats to Choiseul Province in the Solomon Islands

13 February 2013 - Gendley Galo is a community leader from Nuatabu village on the North coast of Choiseul Province in the Solomon Islands.

Along with 20 other local leaders, Mr. Galo recently travelled to the provincial capital of Taro where a new Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment reportwas presented to representatives from community, government and development agencies. The report contains information gathered over several months from consultations at 27 villages across Choiseul.

Gendley GaloMr Gendley Galo

At the meeting, Mr. Galo was one of many who raised the alarm about the impact of logging operations on forests that protect rivers and water catchments and disappearance of the mangroves that shield villages from storms and sea level rise.

"We have a logging company who is operating in our area. I am concerned with what is happening. It was a terrible sight to see the log pond being established that devastated about 2 hectares of mangroves that were cut down," said Mr. Galo.

Mr. Galo also spoke of the destruction of cultural sites caused by logging.

"They smashed all the rocks that have been the barrier to the sea where my grandfather's grave is. The rocks were then moved to create the foundations for the logging wharf."

Aside from impacts from logging, the Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment report identifies how multiple social, cultural, political, economic and environmental factors influence each community's ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Paul Donohoe, SPREP's Ecosystem-based Adaptation Officer, says,"The consultations revealed many non-climate change factors are weakening the resilience of the people of Choiseul to climate change, for example, the lack of land-use planning is leading to poor natural resource management decisions being made in some areas."

"Recognising the close connectivity of livelihoods and natural resources and the links between terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems; ecosystem based adaptation; and a ridge to reef management approach is an appropriate adaptation response."

Mr Donohoe concluded: "By focusing on the issues in the community, this assessment allows the implementation activities to be based on their needs."

The report was used to develop a joint implementation plan for the Choiseul integrated climate change adaptation programme that involves multiple partners working together to deliver a holistic adaptation response in Choiseul.

The report is a co-publication between SPREP, SPC and GIZ where these partners worked closely with multiple divisions of the Choiseul Provincial and the Solomon Islands National Government.

An Ecosystem-based Adaptation Project in Choiseul, coordinated by SPREP and funded by USAID, is part of the new partnership.

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