Equator Prize Winners Speak Out at World Conservation Congress: Henry Kaniki
2008 Equator Prize Winner
Arnavon Community Marine Conservation Area (ACMCA), Solomon Islands
The ACMCA was established in 1995 as the first communitymanaged marine conservation area in the Solomon Islands. The 157 square kilometer area is home to nesting grounds of the endangered Hawksbill sea turtle. This Marine Protected Area, created to stem the overexploitation of dwindling marine resources, attracts ecotourism that provides a valuable source of income for local communities. Local youth are employed as monitors and high school students are brought on tours to learn about the group’s conservation efforts. A management committee that represents the three founding villages—Kia, Wagina, and Katupika—helps to resolve resource conflicts. This initiative has led attempts to diversify sources of income and nutrition for the villages’ fishing communities, including making handicrafts for visiting tourists, seaweed harvesting, and small-scale agriculture.
HK: “We are a classic example of how community engagement can really carry out a successful conservation activity. In our case there are three different communities that work together for a common purpose. It’s more like a peace process, that’s how they see it, because this conservation activity really brings peace to three communities who in the past fought each other. When we got this award, the communities started to realize how important their role is at a bigger scale. It’s not only within our community’s interests, but it has become an interest for the regional and national governments. The innovative idea is the concept of involving resource owners and nonresource owners, like the resource users. Engaging them, that’s a success story because it involves others. It provides a really strong link so they all gain respect for conservation work.”