On the 29th of July 2018, the Executive Director for the Kainake Project, Dr. Jeffrey Noro visited the Wisai Conservation Project in the Buin District of South Bougainville. The WCP is currently in a partnership arrangement to preserve their virgin montane rainforest from unsustainable practices.
Wisai is found within the Mt Takuan area, which has been identified as a Key Biodiversity Area that is under critical threat by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. It is home to a number of endangered species that are endemic to the ecoregion. Dr. Noro says that “…at present we are interested in the preservation of the monkey-faced bat, Pterolopex flanneryi and the giant tree rats Solomys ponceleti and Solomys salebrosus. There could be other species that are unknown to science living within these understudied environments. These are important conservation flagship species that are not found anywhere else in the world except on Bougainville and neighbouring Choiseul Province in the Solomon Islands. There is also a large diversity of birds here that can attract a lot of bird watchers to the area.”
While it important to preserve the ecological system in the area it is equally important to initiate sustainable economic models around conservation. Dr. Noro says that it is critical to find a balance between science and conservation, business and building harmonious and inclusive communities. By working together with the community, opportunities for ecotourism and agribusiness have to be explored as a cornerstone for sustainable development in this beautiful part of Bougainville.
Dr. Noro was well received by the Wisai community led by local Chief Mr. John Masiu. TKP will be working closely with the Wisai community in the next two years in a collaborative manner that encourages ongoing learning and exchange for all those who are involved.