PRIME Minister Hon. Rick Houenipwela has signed the Sky Islands Pledge to ban logging, mining and other commercial activities at and above the 400m contour line.
This was during a low key ceremony held at the Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel last week.
The signing of the pledge shows the commitment by the Government of Solomon Islands to uphold the well-being of customary communities and national identity in recognition of sacred places, pristine ecosystems, and their essential role in sustaining the people of the islands.
The pledge is the first step in achieving a “20% by 2020” target, or “20 by 20” which will mean protection of the land above 400m contour line being 20% of the land area of the country by 2020.
As a result of making the commitment, a trust will also be created and that will provide long term funding for customary guardianship of sky islands and the development of enterprise and livelihood opportunities for landowning communities.
This Trust Fund is envisioned to provide the basis for the development of new options for financial returns and livelihoods for our indigenous landowners, such as tourism, benefits from medicinal plants and so forth.
In signing the Sky Island Pledge the Solomon Islands Government, on behalf of its people pledge to;
a) protect all land areas at and above the 400m above contour line in Solomon Islands;
b) annul any logging or mining licenses that fall at and above the 400m above sea level contour line;
c) declare these areas at and above 400m to be “the SKY ISLANDS OF SOLOMON ISLANDS”
d) urgently execute a collaborative programme of action to realise the 20 by 20 pledge; and
e) encourage the creation of a trust mechanism that will support customary guardianship of these highly valuable environments in perpetuity and that is undergirded by the Protected Areas Act.
The occasion was witnessed by Senior officials from the Government, Private Sector, and other NGOs.