TETEPARE, SOLOMON ISLANDS
The Last Wild Island
Tetepare Island is the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific and one of the last remaining unlogged islands in the Solomon Islands. Untouched by humans since the mid 1800’s, Tetepare harbors 12,000 ha of thriving rainforests, coral reefs, mangrove swamps, and nesting beaches for critically endangered leatherback turtles, as well as dugongs, saltwater crocodiles, and countless species of birds and fish.
In 2002 the island’s customary landowners formed the Tetepare Descendants’ Association (TDA) to avoid imminent commercial logging of the island. TDA is now officially recognized by the national government as representing the legal owners of Tetepare. With support from several outside organizations, TDA conducts patrols and carries out both terrestrial and marine biological monitoring. In light of significant forgone income from choosing conservation instead of logging, TDA has also initiated projects to create tangible benefits for its members. Chief among these are a community ecolodge, and a direct benefit program that provides scholarships for children unable to pay school fees. As a result of these activities, in a country that has seen most of its forests fall to logging, Tetepare remains one of the last major refuges for plant and animal species found nowhere else. It is also one of the few places in the entire Pacific where communities have effectively resisted commercial loggers.
TDA’s success, while internally driven, also depends on a sustainable source of financing. To address this need and to buttress the community’s commitment to conservation, TDA has entered into a long-term community conservation agreement (CCA) with the Conservation Agreement Fund (CAF).
CAF administers funding from a variety of sources to support the Tetepare CCA, including a dedicated project endowment established in partnership with the Conservation International’s Global Conservation Fund through a generous contribution from AusAID. Over the past decade the CAF endowment has provided funding to support the TDA scholarship program, rangers, the ecolodge and environmental monitoring. In addition, CAF has recently made a two-year commitment to hire a new program director. Our hope is that fundraising efforts in the future will allow us to expand our endowment to establish a more secure foundation for the project’s long-term sustainability.