Malaulalo Island in the Three Sisters group of Islands in the Makira-Ulawa Province will soon gain its Marine Protected Areas (MPA) status following a planned visit to the island by Officials from the Environment Conservation Division this month.
Malaulalo Island has been under Conservation for the last 10 years through a community initiative by the Malaulalo Conservation & Tourism Association (MCTA).
MCTA was established in 2014 and has been receiving support from both international and local stakeholders for its conservation initiative in the last 6 years.
Rufford Foundation of UK (2015) supported the conservation of Hawksbill Turtles on Malaulalo, Pacific Conservation & Development Fund of New Zealand (2018) supported culture tourism efforts on the island with specific focus in promoting the legendary “Crocodile Calling’ practice of ‘Olu Malau’, and the Waitt Foundation of USA supported the establishment of a Marine Park on Malaulalo for conservation and tourism purposes
The latter (Waitt Foundation) kicked off the process of Malaulao Island to become an MPA. Its partner in this project is the Environment and Conservation Division of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, and Disaster Management & Meteorology (MECCDMM). As an extension of this project MECCDMM considered Malaulalo in 2020 to be an area of study (bio-diversity survey) and noted as a potential site for an MPA.
The biodiversity survey and the formulation of a Management Plan are pre-requisites for the establishment of an MPA. Due to COVID19 these planned activities were differed to 2021.
This month a team of officers from the Environment & Conservation Division will travel to Malaulalo Island to conduct a biodiversity survey of both the terrestrial and marine ecology of the island. This is to create a baseline data for the formulation of a Management plan for Malaulalo as an MPA (to be).
“It has been a daunting journey in the last 10 years but a worthwhile one as well as far as environment sustainability, social and economic security is concerned. We will further update you on the progress of this development,” a statement from MCTA said this week.
The Conservation Division of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, and Disaster Management & Meteorology (MECCDMM) commends such local initiatives that is built on people’s knowledge, their identity and heritage and their deep connections to the land and sea and their aspirations for a sustainable future for their children.
“We are already excited – Malaulalo Island is another bright-light for conservation work in Solomon Islands especially in Makira and Ulawa Province,” a statement from the Ministry said.
“The trip is uniquely designed to extend our knowledge about the island-ecosystem and to contribute to developing a management plan for the site. We thank the Malaulalo Conservation and Tourism Association (MCTA) for accepting the Division to conduct this activity. More attention should be given to community conservation programs in country,” the statement added.