Ecosystem service provision and adaptive co-management in the Solomon Islands.
Biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction are pressing global challenges. Biodiversity conservation and the maintenance of ecosystem health are central to improving the ability of the poor to cope with environmental change. However, debate continues as to whether conservation is a tool for poverty reduction or constraint on development.
Despite many long-term conservation efforts and poverty reduction strategies, there is scant evidence for successful synergies between the two.
The current empirical evidence for synergies is weak, both in terms of quantity and quality, and causality is often assumed but not proven. The weak evidence base is hindering both conservation and development goals.
The Solomon Islands are part of the East Melanesian Islands biodiversity hotpot and contain some of the highest species endemism and diversity in the world yet remain poorly studied. My study site is the Kahua region of Makira. Kahua is an ideal case-study for exploring the relationship between poverty, biodiversity and sustainability as it is an area with high biodiversity and high local dependence on the environment.
It is also undergoing rapid social and environmental change: a recent switch to a monetary economy has created a gradient in land-use and dependence, and remote sensing data has identified rapid changes in primary productivity suggesting significant ecological change at a landscape scale.
The overall aims of this research are to:
1) identify the nature and levels of poverty in the study area;
2) determine if the poor are more dependent on provisioning ecosystem services;
3) examine varying land-use impacts on ecosystem services, and
4) predict the impacts of the current rate of change on ecosystem service provision and for the next 10 years.
This project utilises a mixed-methods approach within a participatory framework, to ensure detailed local knowledge of the environment is accessed alongside improving local capacity. Methods were piloted for reliability and feasibility March - May 2011 and the main data collection phase ran from January – July 2012.
Poverty: indicators of poverty were collected through focus groups and verified during a cross-community workshop. These asset-based indicators have been used to give each household a wealth score.
Household use of resources: multi-round interviews were used to collect 24-hour recall data on daily household dietary intake, basic household budgets and household composition, and 2-week recall for bushmeat, building materials and other natural resources.
Biodiversity: data on birds (line transect and mist-netting) and bats (ultrasonic monitoring) was collected from five land-use types: forest, secondary forest, garden, mixed-cocoa and monoculture cocoa. Frog and butterflies were also tested, but were discontinued for various logistical reasons.
The Kahua Association (KA) is a local grass-roots organisation that aims to achieve a local, united and sustainable approach to development. Whilst still a young organisation, it has already successfully stimulated more effective cross-community discussions and more equitable decision-making, e.g. when communities are approached by logging and mining companies.
This project collaborates directly with the KA for in-country implementation and logistical support. This maximizes the benefits of the project to the communities through building local capacity and aiding local learning. It also ensures the outputs of the project are disseminated to the wider community.
Solomon Star coverage Manu i Makira (Birds of Makira): an educational tool distributed to all participating communities, schools and kindys in Makira-Ulawa Province. The aim of this book is to help foster understanding on the environment and why Makira is an important place for conservation.
This book was made possible through Rufford Small Grants. and has proved extremely popular with children and adults alike and is only the 2nd book to be published in the Kahuan language (after the bible)!
Download the Birds of Makira PDF (3.4 MB).
T. Davies is funded by NERC scholarship.
Additional funding for fieldwork 2012 was provided by:
Rufford Small Grants ,
Lubee Bat Conservancy