EFFORTS to conserve seagrass and dugong in the country received a funding boost of US$5.88 million (more $40 million) from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).
The four-year project (2015 – 2018) is the first of its kind here, under GEF’s Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project.
The project was titled “Enhancing the Conservation Effectiveness of Seagrass Ecosystems Supporting Globally significant populations of Dugongs across the Indian and Pacific ocean basins.”
It will be executed by Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MbZSCF) and is implemented by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) with financing from GEF.
MbZSCF Project Coordinator Maya Todoroua said this project is the first of its kind to be coordinated as action type.
And MbZSCF is grateful to be in Solomon Islands as implementers to this project, she said.
Ms Todoroua said Solomon Islands, unlike many places in the world, had its people well connected with the environment.
“A short stint though but the experience of Solomon Islands environment and culture is amazing; it is rich in terms of its environment,” Ms Todoroua said.
“People are being part of it and are connected to the nature unlike some other places where they have already lost theirs.”
Ms Todoroua said this is a significant effort but “we have to be cautious of how we interact or engage with nature as stewards”.
“Stewardship towards nature is important; we can impact it on a longer term or a shorter term.”
She said a unique project it is, maintenance of sea resources as such is important and MbZSCF is grateful to be partner in this great initiative to conserve seagrass and dugongs.
“We hope to have great time here over the next four years.
“The continuous active support and participation of stakeholders including government’s organisations and agencies is very important and so is the project outcome over the years to come,” she said.
Undersecretary Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management, Climate Change and Meteorology, Chanel Iroi said Solomon Islands has some of the rich marine ecosystems in the world.
“The initiative to protect seagrass and dugong is aligned to the initiative to protect the marine environment to what has been done at the community level on sustainable management,” Mr Iroi said.
He said seagrass plays a vital role in the coastline ecosystem, as barrier to natural sea acidification, food and shelter to schools of fish.
“For years, we tend to be ignorant of sea grasses value, especially along coastlines and are uprooted due to development.
“More so with run off sediments from the land into the sea killing seagrass – from logging and agriculture practices.”
Mr Iroi said Solomon Islands is fortunate to still have a number of areas with seagrass safe and the initiative now taken by GEF is welcomed.
He said the ministry is looking forward to work in partnership in whatever possible way to ensure the project goals are achieved over the four years.
By BRADFORD THEONOMI