The Kira Forest Biodiversity Conservation Area, KFBCA, in East Are Are has become the first conservation area in Malaita Province to be declared as a Protected Area (PA) under the Protected Areas Act 2010.
The Kira Forest Biodiversity Conservation Area is 677 hectares and is registered under the Resource Management Area Category Four (4), under the Protected Areas Act classification.
A historical and moving ceremony was conducted at Kira Conservation Centre at Masupa village in East Are Are from Friday 27th to Saturday 28th November under the theme “Protecting our Land, Saving Lives.”
The gathering was purposely to witness the launching, declaration and a handing over of the Protected Areas Registration Certificate by the Government to the Kira Tribe.
Officials from the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM), Ensuring Resilient Ecosystems and Representative Protected Areas (EREPA) Project Team and representatives from various conservation partners including Winrock International, Mai-maasina Green Belt, Wai-Hau Conservation Foundation and Ahetaha Water Conversation Foundation and various Community Based Conservation representatives joined hundreds of people from East and West Are Are and Kwaio regions to celebrate the launch .
In declaring and handing the certificate on behalf of the Government, Acting Director of Environment and Conservation Division Josef Hurutarau said this is the first breakthrough in Malaita Province and mile stone achievement under the Ministry MECDM, Protected Areas Program in Solomon Islands.
“As the Ministry overseeing the protected areas process, it is a daunting task to reach this far and become a Protected Area successfully registered under the Protected Areas Act 2010.
“This is a huge achievement in itself not only for Kira tribal land but also for the Government and all partners who involved and supported the process.
Mr Hurutarau said in terms of legal protection, it is a new way or tool for managing our resources since our lands and resources will be restricted under a management plan developed under the law.
“Let Kira be a role model to the East and West Are Are region, Malaita Province and Solomon Islands, and lead the way in sustainably managing and conserving our land and its resources,” he said.
Member of Parliament for East Are Are Constituency Honourable Peter Kenilorea Junior, who was not able to present for the occasion, passed his message saying the declaration is a testament to the commitment of the Solomon Islands government to environmental conservation.
“It is a clear message that we are taking the necessary steps to protect our natural resources and honor our obligations to international environmental agreements.
“It is a stand we take to protect our unique ecosystems, rare species, and maintain the ecological balance that sustains us all.
“Today as the proud Member of Parliament for East Are Are Constituency, I am delighted that our beloved Kira has been officially and legally recognized as conservation and protected area.
“This achievement is a testament to our collective commitment to preserving the natural beauty and ecological integrity of our constituency.
Honorable Kenilorea Junior said the achievement would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of the local community, environmental organizations, and the unwavering support of fellow constituents.
“Together, we have shown that responsible stewardship of our natural resources is not only essential but also an achievable goal.
“With Kira now officially recognized as a conservation and protected area, we are taking a significant step in the right direction,” he said.
Both MECDM-EREPA Project National Coordinator, Ms. Cathy Unga and Malaita Provincial Project Coordinator, Joseph Airahui expressed their gratitude to have support the launch.
They said the achievement of the PA status for Kira tribal land is a golden achievement for the MECDM/EREPA project implementation in Malaita Province.
“Declaring of Kira tribal land as the nationally recognized Protected Area under the Protected Areas Management Act 2010 of Solomon Islands will now go down in the history books of Malaita as it marks the first official Protected Area in Malaita Province.
“Therefore, I also called upon the Management Committee of Kira Forest Biodiversity Conservation Area (KFBCA) to take the helm of leadership and trust that was bestowed on them by tribesmen and women of Kira tribal land and uphold the principles of transparency and accountabilities at all times to ensure success,” said Airahui.
Kira Forest Biodiversity Conservation Area (KFBCA) Coordinator Andrew Taraha said the Taka’ Taka Eco-Village Conservation Foundation, an incorporated non-profit Community-based organization, was conceived in 2014 is the beginning of the establishment which leads to Kira Protected Areas program
Taraha said the establishment of the Kira Forest Biodiversity Protected Area (KFBCA) is the result of unity, collaboration, collective effort, compassion, leadership and cooperation by Kira tribal members that brought them to the achievement.
“Today marks the completion of the first chapter in Kira’s conservation journey, and we eagerly anticipate the next chapter. In our upcoming phase, we are excited to step into three fundamental pillars of our conservation efforts: Economic Development, Kastom Education, Environmental Stewardship and Theocracy.
“With these pillars as our foundation, we are enthusiastic about the positive impact our continued conservation journey will have on both the environment and the lives of the people in our community,” said Mr Tahara.
Other Conservation Partners were given the opportunity to express their gratitude including Winrock International representative, Mr Brown Onahikeni who presented a mapping GPS equipment to (KFBCA) during the occasion, pledging support to Kira in its future conservation activities.
The ceremony concluded with presentation of gifts, entertainment and motivating excitements from various tribes who are self-convicted and earnestly desired to have their tribal lands and forest conserved and sustainably managed for now and the future generations.
To date, there are total of six conservation areas successfully declared by the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) under the Protected Areas Act 2010.