© Chris Newbert/Minden Pictures
While best known for its isolated beaches and spectacular scuba diving, the Solomon Islands are truly a birder's paradise. Parrots and lorikeets in every color of the rainbow share the emerald forest canopy with Sanford's fish-eagles (Haliaeetus sanfordi
) and chestnut-bellied imperial pigeons (Ducula brenchleyi
), which offer a deep and prolonged coo to announce their presence. The Critically Endangered thick-billed ground-dove (Gallicolumba salamonis
) has not been seen since 1927, but is not yet considered extinct because its last known habitat on the islet of Ramos remains intact.
CI has been working to maintain this unique habitat by promoting responsible ecotourism projects across the islands. Work to establish a conservation area in the Bauro Highlands of Makira Island is underway, with the goal of having the area collectively managed by land-owning groups and then recognized by the government.
The Solomon Islands government has developed a community-based conservation project in Komaridi, on the island of Guadalcanal, leading to the creation of a local conservation area of lowland and montane rainforest. Unfortunately, the ecotourism component of this project, supported by the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP), was terminated in 2000 due to unrest in the region.
Nevertheless, CI continues to work in the Solomon Islands by conducting research to inform sustainable development decisions by communities and governing bodies.
CI has recently established a Field Implementation Unit to assist in funding a portfolio of Community Conservation Areas in the Solomon Islands. This portfolio of sites includes forested areas on Makira, Guadalcanal, Kolombangara, and Choiseul. These are areas of high biodiversity, containing numerous rare and endemic species. While the landholders are committed to ensuring that their forests remain intact, CI and its partners make certain that the communities are motivated by providing development incentives. This partnership with the communities ensures sustained community support and commitment while also accomplishing set conservation outcomes.