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Enhancing Solomon Islands’ Protected Areas through Access to Information Resources and GIS
03:29 am GMT+12, 28/10/2020, Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands is an important centre of biodiversity in the Pacific islands region and there are many sites throughout the country that have high conservation value as key habitats for vulnerable and endemic species.  
 
Solomon Islands is part of the East Melanesian Islands biodiversity hotspot, a bioregion in Melanesia notable for its unique flora and fauna and species richness.  Sustainable use of biodiversity and improving protected area management are key priorities for the government of Solomon Islands.
 
A virtually delivered national training for protected area stakeholders was successfully completed for Solomon Islands this week. The training was co-organised and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the government of Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM). The training provided participants with the basic competences and knowledge to navigate and use the tools and features of the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal (PIPAP). Furthermore, participants gained practical skills in utilising free, open-source GIS software to improve mapping of protected and conserved areas.
 
“The training this week will assist us to make better use of the PIPAP - the information and resource platform and tool for Pacific protected areas and conservation areas. The skills acquired will enable improved mapping of the boundaries and other important features of our protected and conserved areas, which would inform better planning and management of these areas in the long term,” saidAgnetha Vave-Karamui, Chief Conservation Officer, Environment and Conservation Division, MECDM.
 
“One gap we realised during the training was the need to conduct a thorough review of our protected areas data available at the global level through the World Database on Protected Areas. As a next step from this training, we welcome further assistance from SPREP through the BIOPAMA programme to undertake and complete this timely review. It is quite important that this information accurately reflects the efforts of our communities, partners and Government in resource management and conservation.”
 
A real time demonstration of the tools and features of the PIPAP was complemented by hands-on  exercises where participants learned how to access and view their country data, conduct basic and advanced searches for information, create and submit initial boundaries and supporting descriptive information for proposed protected and conserved areas and how to locate tools and technical guidance on different aspects of protected and conserved area management available through the portal. The session’s main goal was to promote the PIPAP and encourage the interest of participants in using the portal as a preferred information source to assist various facets of their daily work.
 
The GIS component of the training covered the basic concepts and best practice of GIS and provided participants with practical skills in the use of the QGIS software, capturing spatial data out in the field using handheld global positioning system (GPS) units and importing field data back into QGIS to produce basic site maps with a title, scale, descriptive labels and clear boundaries. Furthermore, participants were introduced to the OpenStreetMap project.  This free and open source spatial data is now available to Pacific users on the Pacific Environment Portal.
 
“The virtual training went very well this week, the participants were engaged and active and internet connectivity didn’t let us down. I am particularly thankful that even with the continuing COVID19 situation we have been able to assist Solomon Islands to address this priority capacity need. We’ll be providing follow up technical support to stakeholders as required in the coming months, including specific assistance on the next steps arising from the training,” said Vainuupo Jungblut Protected Areas Officer, SPREP.
 
The virtual training on the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal (PIPAP) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for improved protected area planning and management in Solomon Islands was held from 19-23 October and funded through the BIOPAMA Programme, an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States financed by the European Union 11th European Development Fund. The training was conducted by SPREP in its capacity as the BIOPAMA regional resource and data hub for the Pacific, fulfilling its role to deliver capacity building initiatives and training programmes in the use of BIOPAMA supported tools and services.
 
BIOPAMA in the Pacific is implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in partnership with SPREP and the European Commission Joint Research Centre. This partnership has seen significant enhancements of the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal, the region’s one-stop resource for protected area information. Support was provided by Bradley Eichelberger (PIPAP GIS Specialist consultant under the BIOPAMA Programme) and the GEF funded regional Inform Project implemented through UN Environment and executed by SPREP. For more information on Solomon Islands datasets please visit the Solomon Islands Environment Data Portal.
 
For more information on the BIOPAMA regional resource and data hub, please contact Vainuupo Jungblut, Protected Areas Officer on email: vainuupoj@sprep.org

For more information on the Inform Project and national environment data portals, please contact the Inform team via inform@sprep.org

SOURCE: SPREP/PACNEWS


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