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Protected Areas Toolkit Launch in Solomon Islands

HONIARA, 20 NOVEMBER 2013 (LALSU) —- Communities have moved a step closer to protecting their land from unsustainable development thanks to a new initiative launched Tuesday in Solomon Islands.

essay revision serviceThe Landowners Advocacy and Legal Support Unit (LALSU) launched a toolkit providing a step-by-step guide for communities looking to submit a protected areas application.

The Protected Areas Toolkit was launched at Iron Bottom Sound Hotel yesterday, during a workshop for representatives from NGOs, community groups and government ministries.

The head of LALSU, Martha Manaka, said that the toolkit will help communities understand their rights under the new national Protected Areas Act 2010.

“The new Act creates a legal way for communities to protect part of their land for ongoing conservation” said Manaka.

“This toolkit would not have been possible without the generous support of the Packard Foundation in partnership with the WWF and the Environmental Defender’s Office of NSW”.

The new Act creates a grassroots approach to conservation under which landowners can apply to the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology for their land to be protected. A declaration will not change the ownership of land which landowners will continue to use and manage. Landowners will also have a say in what actions will be permissible and will have a role in enforcing and monitoring the area.

While there are many community level protected areas across the country, and others protected under provincial ordinances, the Act is the first to provide an option for national recognition. This means that the declaration is harder to overturn. It also creates criminal offences for certain actions on the land or sea including a complete ban on commercial logging and mining.

LALSU has seen situations where community conservation areas have been ignored by logging companies, such as the logging proposed by Success Pty Ltd above the 400 metre line in Kolombangara. It is hoped that the additional protections afforded under the Protected Areas Act will prevent the destruction of conservation areas in the future.

While no protected areas have yet been declared, widespread support for the Act can be seen in the ## applications that have already been made to the Ministry.

The Ministry expects the first protected area declarations to take place in 2014.

Yesterday’s workshop was a chance for NGOs and community groups preparing applications to meet with Ministry staff and to share tips and challenges.

It is hoped the toolkit, which provides a step-by-step procedure for communities looking to submit a protected areas application, will help to streamline the application process and to make it more accessible to community groups.

LALSU is a unit of the Public Solicitor’s Office which provides a free legal service to landowners for land related issues including logging, mining, land recording, land disputes and conservation. It also conducts monthly awareness visits to remote communities across each province. LALSU’s weekly legal clinic will re-open in January 2014…..PACNEWS

Copies of the toolkit are available online at LALSU’s website http://www.pso.gov.sb/. Alternatively please contact LALSU on 28406 or at jradford@pso.gov.sb to request a hard copy.