Restoring Mangrove forests in the Langalanga lagoon
Rehabilitating and restoring Mangrove forests is a major task for communities in Langalanga Lagoon, Malaita Province.
As a population known for living on artificial islands and dependent on marine resources, the community has gradually witnessed the loss of mangroves over the past decades.
A locally led non-governmental organization (NGO), Batairalo Conservation and Natural Solutions Trust, is dedicated to working with tribal landowners to sustain mangrove ecosystems.
Co-founder of the organization, Stephen Suti Agalo said around 50 percent of mangroves located around his childhood home are now gone.
“Due to population explosion, more people are using mangroves for firewood, building materials for ships and houses, and these are also sold on the market in Honiara,” he explained.
Growing demands for commercial supply of materials to Honiara, coupled with the needs of rural-based communities has placed huge pressure on available natural forests, and hampered the natural regrowth of mangroves.
Meanwhile, Walebarasialia Tobata, also a co-founder of the NGO, said locals living on the lagoon’s outer islands have attempted to replant mangroves. However, more awareness is needed to ensure community members fully understand the important role of mangrove ecosystems.
“Unfortunately, this is not explained well to those at home. Other people would continue harvesting those mangroves and some would even dismiss taboos on harvesting,” he explained.
In recent years, more locals have settled on the mainland and are dependent on finances to survive as their traditional subsistence farms along coastal areas suffer damages due to rising sea levels.
The NGO is currently working together with responsible authorities and academic institutions to find reliable solutions to sustainably use mangrove forests to generate an income for the indigenous population.
According to Mr. Tobata, opportunities lie in blue carbon trading, seaweed farming and mangrove apiculture.
SIBC News understands, Batairalo Conservation and Natural Solutions Trust recently developed its project road map and is focused on reconfiguring its community engagement strategy.
By Andrea Ma’ahanua