Significant improvements are under way at the Honiara Botanical Garden (HBG). The developments are being made under the Annual Work plan and Medium Term Corporate plan (2020-2022) of the Ministry of Forestry and Research and are also reflected in the commitments under a new HBG Management and Business Plan (2020-2030).
The HBG Management and Business Plan is being finalised with technical and financial support from PEBACC and the SPREP Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience (PacRES) project.
The plan outlines proposed upgrade of infrastructure, rehabilitation and measures to protect the park from vandalism and encroachment. Over the years, the gardens, which were established in 1965, have suffered significant setbacks and lost their allure due to intrusion from illegal settlers and lack of resources to maintain the 19 hectares of green space.
The Botanic Garden Management Committee was revived with support from the PEBACC project in 2018, chaired by the Permanent Secretary of Forestry and Research. Members of the committee are from Honiara City Council and other stakeholders. The work of the committee has enabled the Ministry of Forestry to slowly regain control over Honiara’s ‘forest in the city’.
Myknee Sirikolo, Director of the Herbarium at the HBG, explains that the idea of the botanical gardens as a “Forest in a City” was the vision of the former Honiara City Clerk, Mr Charles Kelly who saw the need for public space showcasing the forests and natural environment of Solomon Islands.
Permanent fencing has been constructed along the HBG’s perimeter to keep out vandals and regular maintenance is carried out on the lawn areas, roads, footpaths and water lily ponds, keeping the HBG area neat and tidy. Under the development plans, a new timber boardwalk was built and concrete footpaths established, together with public resting facilities, which are giving a new look to the gardens. PEBACC has also supported improvements to the nursery.
The completion of a two-story herbarium and laboratory building complex has seen the relocation of botanical specimens from the old herbarium to the new herbarium building, which now houses over 25,000 plant specimens, representing about 2,500 species. Another 25,809 specimens are still in Fiji at the South Pacific Regional Herbarium (USP Lower Campus) where they have been housed since 2003 for safe storage.
These specimens will be returned to the Honiara Botanical Garden in 2021. The old herbarium, in collaboration with JICA-LEAF project, HBG will be converted into a Nature and Environment Learning Centre. This will assist students and schools in Honiara. SPREP support towards the HBG has focused on key milestone areas and aspects of the Botanic Garden such as the contracting of consultants for the new BG Management and Business Plan 2020 -2030, new BG Landscaping Plan and Design and a new BG Nursery Plan.
“The Botanical Garden is an important natural ecosystem within Honiara City,” says Mr Sirikolo. “It hosts remnant natural forests, unique species of plants and animals, the Rove River, which flows right in the middle of the gardens and the upper areas being the water catchment for the Rove watershed. The HBG is a forest carbon sink and provides wholesale storage and supply of fresh air (oxygen) for Honiara city”.
Sirikolo said upgrading of the HBG infrastructure facilities and management will encourage its protection and ensure its resilience to the negative effects of climate change and undesired human activities. “The re-development and improvement of the HBG will certainly bring back the four founding pillars for establishing it, that is, Biodiversity Conservation, Research, Education and Public Recreation, said Mr Sirikolo.
“With a new Management Plan, Vision and Mission, the HBG will be guided and redirected to become an internationally recognised Botanic Garden under a ‘new normal’ context in the Solomon Islands and the Pacific region.”
The HBG area is open to the public from 6am to 6pm daily and currently on weekends by appointment only. Fees will be charged once upgrading works and improvements are completed and donations from visitors are encouraged to help with ongoing maintenance.
Source: PEBACC Project, Honiara
PEBACC or the Pacific Ecosystems-based Adaptation to Climate Change Project is a five year project that explores and promotes Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) options for adapting to climate change. The Project is implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in partnership with the Governments of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
The overall intended outcome of the project is: EbA is integrated into development, climate change adaptation and natural resource management policy and planning processes in three Pacific island countries providing replicable models for other countries in the region.
The PEBACC Project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.
In Solomon Islands the three sites for PEBACC projects are Barana Community Nature and Heritage Park, Honiara Botanical Garden and Wagina in Choiseul province.