New Solomon Islands National Land and Forest Cover Mapping and GIS Initiative

23 Mar 2012

(Honiara, Solomon Islands) - The Solomon Islands will soon be able to better monitor climate change and land use. This would be made possible through the country’s own remote sensing mapping and Geographic Information System capability to map forest cover, agriculture, pasture, mangroves, plantations, coral reefs and water bodies and biodiversity.

Currently, there is no comprehensive land cover mapping for Solomon Islands. The status of land  cover needs to be documented to create a baseline data allowing climate change and land use changes to be monitored  over time.  

This joint initiative between the Solomon Islands Government with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Project Strengthening Environment Management and Reducing the Impact of Climate Change (SEMRICC), and the SOPAC Division of the South Pacific Community was presented at the Solomon Islands National Vegetation and GIS Technical Workshop held at the Mendana hotel last week.

The key participating Ministries for this initiative include the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM), the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of Lands, Housing & Survey.  This initiative is being coordinated by the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Co-ordination (MDPAC) in Solomon Islands. While individual Ministries will maintain their own GIS databases, MDPAC will host a central depository and back up of all data on behalf of Solomon Islands

“I believe for the Solomon Islands it is a first,” said Dr Russell Howarth, Director SOPAC division in SPC at a key note address to the technical working group assembled at the Mendana Hotel in Honiara.   

“This mapping will enable further mapping at 1: 10,000 for protected areas, mapping and select hot spots for food security,” Dr Howarth said. After receiving presentations from participating Departments, SOPAC Division will programme training assistance with UNDP SEMRICC funding and funding from the Adaptation Fund. Training is expected to be both in country and in SOPAC SPC offices in Fiji.  

As part of this initiative assistance is also being provided to build a database of natural hazard and social vulnerability in the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) which will work closely with the Statistics Division of the Department of Finance using the now digitised census data with assistance from SPC. 

UNDP will also support the School of Natural Resources of the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education to develop and deliver a GIS technicians course to support this course.

The Permanent Secretary of MDPAC, Jeremiah Manele said that the SEMRICC Inception workshop held in January 2012 provided an ideal platform to bring together several mapping initiatives and this workshop is the logical next step towards implementing a national land cover system for Solomon Islands.

The satellite imagery for the project is being funded by USAID under the Pacific Food Security Project.       

Contact Information

Chanel Iroi – Under Secretary Technical/Supervising Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, tel: +677 23031; email: c.iroi@met.gov.sb.
Valentine Thurairajah Project Manager, UNDP SEMRICC, tel: +677 27446; email: valentine.thurairajah@hotmail.com
Mia Rimon – Coordinator, Solomon Islands Country Office, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), tel: +677 25574; email: miar@spc.int