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 long-term commitment to conservation, TDA recently entered into a community conservation agreement (CCA) with the Solomon Islands Community Conservation Partnership (SICCP), a local NGO that helps to implement conservation agreements in the Solomon Islands. SICCP administers funding from a variety of sources to support the Tetepare CCA. The Conservation Agreement Fund supports both SICCP and TDA through a dedicated project endowment established in partnership with the Conservation International’s Global Conservation Fund (www.conservation.org/gcf) through a generous contribution from AusAID. In addition, Tetepare recently gained endorsement from the Solomon Islands government to be the county’s first pilot project for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). Under this initiative, Tetepare aims to establish a long-term source of funding for conservation and community development based on carbon credits sold to international investors. The Tetepare REDD project will be one of the first forest carbon projects in the Pacific region.
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