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Winrock International

Three ways SCALE-NRM supports locally-led protection of forests and livelihoods in the Solomon Islands 

The USAID Strengthening Competitiveness, Agriculture, Livelihoods and Environment – Natural Resources Management (SCALE-NRM) project, implemented by Winrock International and partners, is a five-year, $16.5 million investment in economic growth and trade in the Solomon Islands, with emphasis on development of the agribusiness sector and improved forestry management. In support of the Solomon Islands’ National Development Strategy 2016-2035, the project has three objectives: 1) Improve the enabling environment for increased trade and investment; 2) Promote the development and expansion of the agribusiness sector; and 3) Improve natural resources governance. SCALE-NRM works in provinces most in need of development as identified by the Solomon Islands government, with an initial focus on Malaita Province.


SCALE-NRM is strengthening the enabling environment for conservation by building the regulatory and enforcement capacities of the Malaita Provincial Government.

On Nov. 21, 2023, the Malaita Provincial Assembly – the governing body of the most populated island in the Solomon Islands ─ voted to pass first-of-its-kind legislation to use its powers under the Provincial Government Act to manage the forest industry and trade in forest products. Through a combination of steep licenses and compliance fines for logging, Malaita’s new Forest Business License Ordinance (FBLO) protects and conserves over 107,000 hectares of intact forests on the island from uncontrolled and/or illegal logging. 

Prior to its passage, Malaita experienced more logging operations than any other province in the nation. Weak regulation and enforcement meant loggers routinely flouted island laws meant to control the sector. Without strong ordinances and regulations, communities and government were unable to act. Logging companies capitalized on the regulation vacuum, with some even taking conservation-committed provinces to court over their oversight efforts.  

Photo by Jean-Pierre Rousseau for Winrock International.

In response, SCALE-NRM worked with local partners and Malaita’s provincial government to enact the FBLO, the first set of comprehensive new regulations aimed at reigning in uncontrolled logging at the provincial level. The ordinance establishes accountability in the forestry sector and is linked to national laws. With strong commitment from the provincial government to identify fresh approaches to build an enabling environment for conservation economies to evolve, SCALE-NRM provided technical assistance in drafting the legislation, and helped conduct community-based and province-wide consultations and stakeholder validation exercises to ensure broad understanding and local buy-in. 

The new rules include provisions requiring logging operators to conduct environmental impact assessments, develop reforestation and post-harvest plans, and establish nurseries for replanting of forests before they touch a tree. 

The FBLO presents a fresh solution to old challenges. Though logging permits are issued by the national government, business licensing ─ including licenses for logging sales and operations ─ fall under the purview of provincial government. The new ordinance provides Malaita with regulatory and administrative authority to transparently award logging licenses and to enforce compliance by loggers.  

SCALE-NRM reforestation. Photo by Jean-Pierre Rousseau for Winrock International.

Monitoring and enforcement can stretch provincial budgets, presenting a bottleneck to policy implementation. To address this challenge, the FBLO incorporates a self-funding financial system that allows the Malaita provincial government to reinvest revenue generated from the issuance and renewal of licenses and fines for non-compliance into funding monitoring and enforcement. It includes a stiffer and stricter fees and permits regimen, raising revenue for hiring additional rangers, inspectors and licensing agents to properly enforce regulations and monitor logging. The FBLO also now requires loggers to submit advanced payment of performance bonds, incentivizing them to pay all required taxes, fees and duties before beginning to operate. Currently, that’s not the case in Malaita, where loggers routinely fail to acquire proper permits, often do not obtain proper permission from landowners, and often neglect to pay any fees or taxes.

Malaita’s FBLO is now a model for other island provinces to replicate.

Malaita’s self-funded business licensing scheme is being watched closely in the country’s other provinces and could soon become the standard for reducing illegal logging across both the Solomon Islands and the wider South Pacific. Widespread provincial and national-level interest in and enthusiasm about Malaita’s approach to stronger regulation was on display at a workshop organized by SCALE-NRM and the Solomon Islands National University held before the U.N.’s 2023 annual Climate Change Conference, known as the Conference of the Parties, or COP28 for short.

In remarks at the November 2023 workshop, U.S. Embassy Honiara Chargé d’Affaires Russell Comeau described the passage of the FBLO as “an opportunity for leveraging the skills and talents that exist in communities and provinces around Solomon Islands to improve the management of ─ let’s be honest ─ the last of their forests…The time to act is now, whether it be for sustainable forestry or to identify areas that may contribute to income from public or private carbon markets.” 

Photo by Jean-Pierre Rousseau for Winrock International.

The event informed a range of national and provincial government stakeholders about innovations in safeguarding forest resources spearheaded by the Malaita provincial government. Attended by officials from the national Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening and premiers from six different provinces, SCALE-NRM experts shared step-by-step guidelines and the methodology developed by the project that supported the ordinance. The positive reception prompted the national government to formally announce the passage of Malaita’s FBLO at COP28 in Dubai, introducing this major milestone in conservation of Malaita’s forests on a global stage.  

At the November event, provincial premiers from Guadalcanal, Makira, Choiseul, Temotu and Isabel all expressed interest and requested support and information about how to replicate the FBLO in their provinces. Premier Julian Maka’a of Makira said his province experiences many of the same challenges as Malaita with logging, and that an ordinance like FBLO could help. Guadalcanal Premier Francis Sade shared his intent to recall his province’s existing forest management ordinance and redo the process using FBLO methodology presented at the workshop.


SCALE-NRM is empowering communities to effectively participate in decisions about the use of community-owned forests, and to design and implement initiatives to conserve and effectively manage these forests.

On Oct. 29, 2023, the Kira tribal land in Southern Malaita was declared a nationally recognized Protected Area under the Protected Areas Management Act 2010 of Solomon Islands, making it the first such officially designated area in the province. The Kira tribe will now manage and govern their tribal land under the provisions of the Protected Area. Kira’s status guarantees conservation of its 667 hectares of intact forests from logging and provides other ecosystem services benefits besides money to more than 300 households within the Masupa, Aiarai and Purimou communities, in the form of protection of traditional livelihoods and customary rights. 

Kira tribal lands are among the last unlogged areas left in Malaita. Prior to establishment of the Protected Area, tribal representatives faced mounting pressures from logging operators seeking to exploit the untouched forest resources. In the face of increased threats to their lands and biodiversity, the tribe took action. They began by establishing the Takataka Eco Village Conservation Foundation in 2014. The mission of the nonprofit foundation is to govern and protect Kira’s forest resources; TEVCF is also a member of Mai-Ma’asina Green Belt, a larger nonprofit umbrella organization established to support conservation across Malaita’s southern region. 

Building on the tribe’s commitment to conservation action, SCALE-NRM began working with TEVCF and MMGB in 2021 to assist the Kira tribe in its conservation journey. Project staff shared information about how Payment for Ecosystem Services programs work, how to start a PES system for their lands, and ongoing consultations with tribal representatives. SCALE-NRM also conducted a social assessment and forest inventory on Kira land. In 2023, TEVCF became a recipient of SCALE-NRM’s Forest Development Fund grant program, which is now providing the community-based group with organizational development and financial support to continue its operations.  

To mark achievement of tribal-led conservation action, the Kira hosted a celebratory event on Nov. 27, 2023. 

In his opening remarks, Andrew Tahara, leader of Kira tribe and TEVCF, thanked USAID and stakeholders for their support. “Today marks the completion of the first chapter in Kira’s conservation journey, and we eagerly anticipate the next chapter,” Tahara said. “In our upcoming phase, we are excited to step into three fundamental pillars of our conservation efforts: economic development, kastom [traditional] education, environmental stewardship and theocracy. With these pillars as our foundation, we are enthusiastic about the positive impact our continued conservation journey will have on both the environment and the lives of the people in our community.” 

Tribes from across Malaita attended, including from West Kwaio, East Kwaio, and both West and East Are’are. The celebration provided an inspirational learning opportunity, demonstrating the power of tribes to protect their own natural resources when they join in conservation action. Tribal representatives considered the event one of the most notable in recent history, and said it demonstrated a major step forward to protect tribal lands from unsustainable uses. 

Handing over the Protected Area certificate on behalf of the national government, Acting Director of Environment and Conservation Division Josef Hurutarau described the Kira designation as “the first breakthrough in Malaita Province” and a “milestone achievement” under the Protected Areas Program, in an announcement issued by the Solomon Islands Government

“As the Ministry overseeing the protected areas process, it is a daunting task to reach this far and become a Protected Area successfully registered under the Protected Areas Act 2010,” Hurutarau said. “This is a huge achievement in itself not only for Kira tribal land but also for the Government and all partners who involved and supported the process. 

Along with SCALE-NRM and TEVCF team members, other conservation partners and government officials attended from the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Disaster Management; Mai-Ma’asina Green Belt; the Ensuring Resilient Ecosystems and Representative Protected Areas project; the Wai-Hau Conservation Foundation; and the Ahetaha Water Conversation Foundation. The SCALE-NRM team presented a GPS device to TEVCF to support the organization in its ongoing conservation initiatives.  

With financial support through a Forest Development Fund grant, SCALE-NRM is helping the Kira tribe to establish a new Payment for Ecosystem Services scheme. Other tribes in Malaita are also interested in tapping into FDF grants to develop their own Protected Area planning processes and pursue the conservation designation in other areas on the island.  


With limited livelihood opportunities outside of logging, SCALE-NRM is helping to ensure increased community economic benefits from forests through a combination of income-generating activities and conservation concessions.

In 2023, the Alisuri Sustainable Livelihoods Association on Malaita established a savings program designed to reinvest profits from local cocoa sales into productivity improvements, with SCALE-NRM support. Though the grant was not finalized until late in the year, the Alisuri program has already begun to bear fruit, generating SBD 150,000 – the equivalent of about $17,820 USD ─ in savings for members through ASLA management of its 26 farmers’ wet and dried cocoa bean production and sales. By the end of March 2024, ASLA had already redistributed those savings to association members, disbursing between SBD 5,000 ($594 USD) and SBD $19,000 ($2,257 USD) to its members. The savings have helped build new homes, pay for materials, covered operating costs related to running stores in the community, and defrayed costs for household utensils, school fees and uniforms, and other needs.  

Photo by Jean-Pierre Rousseau for Winrock International.

The nonprofit ASLA was initially registered as an Association Trust Board under Falake Community Associations in 2013, but changed its name and transitioned to Alisuri Sustainable Livelihood Association in April 2022. Originally focused on conserving land in and around Falake and Iliki in northwest Malaita, the association expanded its scope to include a livelihoods component. The shift aimed to generate income from agricultural activities to support conservation efforts. ASLA’s current strategic objectives center on strengthening sustainable land use planning and management, promoting community culture and governance, and increasing livelihoods through sustainable agriculture practices in west Baelelea, Arao/Folotana ward (6) on Malaita. 

The success of Alisura’s savings initiative was made possible through expanded cocoa production and improved quality resulting from training provided by SCALE-NRM under the Forest Development Fund grant. As a result of this momentum, the association began collaborating with Kaprikonia Trading Company and will prepare 1 ton of cocoa for export to Adi Chocolate in Fiji in 2024. 

In addition to these achievements, ASLA successfully conducted its own organizational management and administration training for its management team and cocoa farmers in 2024. This training is crucial for effective management and membership coordination.

These initiatives reflect ASLA’s commitment to enhanced livelihoods and ensuring sustainable development of cocoa farming in the region. 

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Uncontrolled logging is decimating forests in the Solomon Islands, a small country in the South Pacific Ocean. Many factors contribute to this problem, including economic interests, land tenure rights, trust between communities and government, and the regulatory environment. As a result, solutions will require a comprehensive effort to address each factor. The Strengthening Competitiveness, Agriculture, […]