A TWO weeks first ever biological survey on the highest mountain in Solomon Islands will begin today.
A statement from the Solomon Islands Community Conservation Partnership said, about 40 national, regional and international biodiversity experts will carry out flora and fauna surveys on Mount Popomanacheu in the hinterland of Central Guadalcanal from September 8-23.
The experts come from United States America (USA), Australia, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Fiji and Vanuatu who will work in collaboration with local experts and tour guides.
Yesterday the team formalizes the expedition through local protocol with the Uluna-Sutahuri Tribe of Malango, Central Guadalcanal in a form of ‘Tiangi’ at Keresapo Village.
‘Tiangi’ or commonly known on Guadalcanal Province as ‘chupu’ is the formal presentation of food and gifts of shell and cash money to the Uluna-Sutahuri tribe who have land rights over Mt Popomanacheu.
The ‘Tiangi’ ceremony where gifts were presented by the expedition team to members of Uluna tribe and being reciprocated by the landowning tribe, formalizes and allow the work to be carried out on Mt Popomanacheu.
“We accept you to do the expedition,” Paramount Chief of Uluna Tribe Peter Seli told the team.
He added this is the biggest group ever his tribe had received in as far as the expedition to Mt Popomanacheu is concerned.
“We are happy to welcome you to explore our land and we accept you to do the expedition for our benefit and that of our people and country,” Seli said.
Director of Environment in the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology Joe Horokou said, this is an unique expedition as it would be the first time to be conducted on land.
“Many studies have been done on marine species and the sea with little knowledge on our mountain areas. So this is an unique expedition that will have the potential for conservation.
“This is good for the country and exciting for all of us,” Mr Horokou added.
He said the government throws its full support behind this expedition through his ministry who had facilitated it through negotiations and seeking consent with landowners in the last two years.
Deputy Director of Environment Mr Tia Masolo in presenting the team’s ‘Tiangi’ said this was the beginning of a partnership for a long-term relationship with the community in the common quest for conservation of their land.
Tribal Chief Marlon Maeni speaking through his kinsmen and translator Mr Justus Denni said such expedition is a new thing for his tribesmen and women.
“Therefore I would request if the team could let us know of your findings and explain to us what you will find.”
The team will be transported on a chopper to the site at the bottom of Mt Popomanacheu today where about three scientists and seven local guides have set up camp since Wednesday last week.
Meanwhile Chief Executive Officer Solomon Islands Community Conservation Partnership (SICCP) Ms Seno Mauli said, her team is happy to help with facilitating communications on the ground for the team.
SICCP is an NGO which has a long developed partnership with the American Museum of Natural History, a key collaborator of this expedition.
She intends to forge a relationship between SICCP and the local landowning tribes on conservation initiative after reports are finalized on the biological surveys are conducted on Mt Popomanacheu.