Historic award for Solomon Islands conservationist

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Island Sun Newspaper, Pacific Islands

Solomon Islands conservationist David Boseto was recognised as one of 15 ‘Hotspot Heroes’ from around the world by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for Outstanding Conservation Efforts.

He received his award last night in Honolulu along with other 14 heroes who have made outstanding contributions to the conservation of biodiversity hotspots—the world’s most biologically diverse yet threatened terrestrial regions.

The ceremony coincided with CEPF celebrating its 15th anniversary in conjunction with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress currently underway in Hawaii.

CEPF selected the Heroes from among the fund’s more than 2,000 grantee organisations around the globe.

A report from CEPF said the Hotspot Heroes and the nongovernmental organisations they work for have made outstanding contributions to the conservation of biodiversity hotspots—the world’s most biologically diverse yet threatened terrestrial regions.

“The Heroes exemplify the kinds of dedicated, dynamic people who work with CEPF to make certain vital ecosystems can continue to provide clean air, fresh water, healthy soils, sustainable livelihoods, resilience to climate change and much more.

“CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. CEPF provides grants to civil society organisations that are working to conserve the biodiversity hotspots in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

Mr Boseto who is from Choiseul Province attended the University of the South Pacific, Fiji, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, a postgraduate diploma and a master’s degree in marine science. He also attended Texas A&M University, where he earned a master’s degree in environmental science. His specialty is ichthyology—the study of fish.

Mr Boseto co-founded Ecological Solutions, Solomon Islands (ESSI) with Patrick Pikacha in 2012, and the two men continue to lead the organisation. Mr Boseto and ESSI, with support from CEPF, have set the foundation for a long-term, community-owned conservation initiative on Choiseul Island by working with local communities to map customary ownership of land and natural resources, and develop land-use plans that reflect cultural and biological values.

Mr Boseto has also played a leading role in other CEPF-supported initiatives in the Solomon Islands, including promoting ridges-to-reef conservation in Western Province and undertaking baseline biological surveys of the highlands of Guadalcanal as a basis for community-based conservation initiatives.

During more than 13 years of experience as a field biologist, Mr Boseto has conducted research in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Kosrae, Australia, New Caledonia, Japan and the United States. He is currently a sitting member of the IUCN Red List–Oceania Freshwater Fish Specialist Group.

“Being nominated as a hotspot hero under the CEPF funded projects is a humble experience for me and my ESSI team and board members.

“First I must acknowledge CEPF for funding the different projects that our team has engaged in, in the Solomon Islands.

“Being a hero is not an individual in a making but for me it is our team effort, collaborative approaches and genuine partnership. Therefore, I would like to acknowledge my two co-leaders in our projects Dr Patrick Pikacha and Mr Myknee Sirikolo my field and administrative staffs, ESSI board and advisory team, customary landowners, key partners and stakeholder, three provincial governments (Lauru, Western and Guadalcanal) and our national government,” he told Island Sun after his award.

The support of Lauru Land Conference of Tribal Communities (LLCTC), Choiseul Provincial Government and The Nature Conservancy on Choiseul and a very special acknowledgement goes especially to Lauru Land Conference of Tribal Community General Secretary, Mr Luke Pitakoe and his team in Choiseul Jimmy Kereseka, Fred Tabepuda and Michael Jaju for their tremendous support on the ground.

“I would also like to thank my family especially wife and two daughters for their support and patience for the days, weeks and months out of our house; last but not the least to all the heroes who are out there in villages that have helped out in these projects in the field. You are our true heroes.”

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) Dr Melchior Mataki and other Solomon Islanders from various NGOs attending the IUCN Conservation Congress in Hawaii were present to witness and congratulate Mr Boseto on his award.

“I would also like to thank all the wantoks who turned out for the award ceremony this evening PS Dr Melchior Mataki, Lysa Wini Simeon, Senoveva Mauli, Salome Topo, Henry Kaniki, Teiba Mamu, Errinah Lawrence and Priestley Habru.

“Also to two of my mentors, Professors William Bill Aalbersberg and Chris Filardi and not forgetting CEPF Team whom our team worked closely with in Honiara Lysa Wini, Fiji, Helen Pippard and Luisa Tagicakibau and from Washington DC, Jack Tordoff,and Michele Zador.”