While Honiara is declared an emergency zone, on the fringe of its border, life continues as normal for Barana community.

Barana Nature and Heritage Park is the biggest conservation site on Guadalcanal.

Since its establishment in 2017, it has grown from strength to strength thanks to the support from community members who have a keen interest to see it grow.

A site attracting tourism activities, Barana previously lacks sanitation facilities to cater for the needs of its visitors.

The construction of sanitation blocks and resting areas are poised to bring a new look and feel to the Barana Nature and Heritage Park on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

The community-owned conservation site was established with support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) through its Pacific Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change (PEBACC) project.

A new partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, through its Small Grants Programme is supporting this further development of the park in line with the Park’s Management Plan.

The park, owned by the Barana Community, spans 5000 hectares of forest area in the upper catchment of Mataniko River. The river is one of the largest river catchments draining Honiara city.

Led by the community, sanitation blocks are being built throughout the park to cater for visitors’ needs. Leaf huts for leisure are also being built as part of the community’s plans for Barana.

“Hill 27, Davioqori view point, Saona (nursery) and Naruaniu are the sites at which we will build these facilities,” Park Manager, Melinda Ki’i said.

Ms. Ki’i said each site is being looked after by the communities in Barana area. She said men and boys are doing construction work while the women and girls will do the landscaping.

“At Saona where the nursery is, we are just waiting for the tank and door before this sanitation block is complete. The leaf huts are also progressing well here,” Ms. Ki’i said.

The advent of the sanitation facilities and leisure huts is expected to increase the park’s appeal to visitors.

“With the sanitation areas in place, families and visitors will have access to more areas for picnics or other family gatherings,” she said.

“When visitors come to visit the park, whichever site they visit, they will have access to proper water and sanitation.”

She said fees are charged at the gate for people wishing to visit the park.

“This will help the community in much needed revenue to maintain the park,” Ms Ki’i said.

The Barana Nature and Heritage Park was selected under the SPREP PEBACC project to demonstrate the use of ecosystem based adaptation (EbA) in building community resilience to climate change following a comprehensive and participatory ecosystem and socio-economic resilience analysis and mapping (ESRAM) study carried out in Honiara.

Solomon Islands PEBACC Project Manager, Fred Patison, explains that the aim of the PEBACC project was to support the community with watershed management.

“The park, managed well, will play a key role in this and could serve as a model for how communities can benefit in perpetuity from their natural environment without destroying it,” he says.

“By keeping the forest intact, the people of Barana are looking after their natural wealth and providing a gift to all the people of the Solomon Islands”.

The Nature and Heritage Park boasts an Environment and Resilience Resource Centre which serves as a platform for Toktok or Talanoa – a place to share ideas and make decisions for the collective good of the community.

With support from the Solomon Islands Government Climate Change Division, the resource centre has been fully equipped with solar power.

The park is managed by a committee within the community.

Development of the park started in 2017 through a partnership between the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management (MECCDM); Ministry of Forestry; Guadalcanal Provincial Government; the Barana community; and SPREP PEBACC Project.