A COMMITTEE to administer and safeguard the fragile, unique and important natural environments of Solomon Islands has been formed.
Dubbed the Protected Areas Advisory Committee (PAAC) consisting of ten members had their first meeting Thursday last week.
A statement from PAAC yesterday said, Protected Areas Act 2010 is a national legislation in Solomon Islands that is administered by the Environment and Conservation Division of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology with its objective to safeguard the fragile, unique and important natural environments of Solomon Islands, protected and restored for the benefit of all Solomon Islanders for the present and future generations.
“Section 2 of the Act gives power to the Minister to appoint the Protected Areas Advisory Committee (PAAC) of ten members.”
The PAAC consist of people who possess the necessary experience and skills in resource conservation and management, including representatives from government ministries, non-government organisations and other qualified people.
The statement explained that the functions of the PAAC among others is to advise the Government on any matter in relation to the Act;
– to advise on the carrying out, implementation and monitoring of the Act;
– to formulate and approve a code of conduct relating to the standards and conduct of non-governmental organizations which deals with matters relating to the Act; and
– to advise the Minister on matters relating to the implementation of the Convention on the biological Diversity that Solomon Islands is party to and also on other matters relating to the Act.
The committee will assist the Ministry of Environment in carrying out the review of the policies relating to the Act and in the implementation and enforcement of the Act.
“The PAAC also has the important responsibility in the approval of the Biological research and Biological prospecting research and is advisable for the researchers who want to do such research in the Solomon Islands to acquire their permits prior to conducting such research in order to avoid the legal implications that may result to fine and imprisonment,” the statement said.
David Lidimani a lawyer by profession and the current Chairperson of the Committee said that PAAC is very important for the future of the country and not only for the ordinary Solomon Islanders who depend directly on the biodiversity for their sustenance but also on the economic development of the Solomon Islands.
“When we about tourism the environmental asset is important to be protected and conserved first just as our cultural asset. We lose them or protect them is in our hands and this committee plays that fundamental functions to preserve and conserve these two important assets,” Mr Lidimani said.
In his remarks Secretary to the committee Jointly Sisiolo who holds a degree in Environmental sciences from University of Papua New Guinea and Post Graduate Diploma and Master’s degree in Environmental planning from the University of Waikato in New Zealand stressed the importance of Solomon Islands in the global community when it comes to biodiversity richness.
Mr Sisiolo pointed out that Solomon Island has one of the richest marine and land diversity in the world with many mammals, birds, reptiles, sea creatures, plants and corals that are unique to the Solomon Islands but unfortunately are now being threatened with extinction.
The protection of the country’s biodiversity for our present benefit and for our future generation rests with the decisions of all Solomon Islanders and especially on the resource owners.
On behalf of his Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment (Dr. Melchior Mataki) Mr Sisiolo stressed the government’s confidence with the committee, and he emphasised that their professional advice should further ratchet the Act and its related policies to fulfil their intended objectives.
The committee in their deliberation also raise the importance of collaboration and dialogue amongst the government ministries, environmental NGOs and other stakeholders of which need to be further strengthened as environmental issues are often cross cutting in nature.