Solomons world heritage East Rennell listed as critical
The Solomon Islands World Heritage area of East Rennell has been listed as in a critical condition by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
People in Solomon Islands are calling for help to manage a World Heritage site which has been listed as being in a critical condition.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has sounded a warning over the site of East Rennell, which is the world's largest raised coral atoll.
Its Lake Tegano and the surrounding forest are said to have a rich biodiversity.
The Solomon Islands National Commission for UNESCO secretary, Christina Bakolo, told Mary Baines nearby forests are being logged, the lake is being overfished and biodiversity is not being protected.
CHRISTINA BAKOLO: There are some places, areas next to the World Heritage, that shouldn't be logged I would say but people are now starting to enter instead of protecting it. It's pretty much now damaged. It's also the native species there, it is not kept well looked after. For instance, Coconut Crabs that shouldn't be over-eaten, there's no control, though NGOs and the government through the Ministry of Environment is telling the villages there not to overuse those resources. But it's what the people need as well. The fish in the lake, it is now over-fished. I met two groups of people from the site. They want the National Commission to join them to stop the international loggers from coming in and damage their property or their land. Some came to my office and say they still want to maintain the place as a heritage. These are the literate ones, the ones who attended school. And there are those who came demanding for money from the National Commission office, saying hey, you have rules that we have to follow, the place is a heritage site, we want money from your office so the communities can look after the place, manage the site well.
MARY BAINES: The people want more help in managing the site, so what needs to be done?
CB: What they are telling me, they say if we are going to protect this place, say for instance, you're telling us not to eat Coconut Crabs then what in exchange are you going to give to us? Are you going to give us funds to manage it? Are you going to say for instance, if I want to build my house, and if there is a tree next to the lake, and if you're not going to give me money to buy timber from other places, I am going to cut down the tree next to the lake, that's the only little area they have as a family. And it's a customary land, it's not the government land, it's not UNESCO land, so what they want to do with it, they have the right to do it on their land.
MB: What would you say are the solutions to these issues being raised, what can be done?
CB: My advice to them is for them to work together with stakeholders, government, the provincial government to ensure that we will continue protect the area and look at other ways that can sustain them and not destroy it. Because in 20 years time it will be a beautiful place where tourists one day will go and visit and their children's children will benefit from it.
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