“To conserve, we must appreciate”, says Prime Minister Lilo

25 April 2012 | News story

Today marks the opening of the Pacific Islands Species Forum, the first regional forum to bring together local, regional and international scientists, researchers, policy-makers, and conservation experts to deliberate the challenges facing the rich biodiversity of the Pacific Islands.

In opening the three day forum, the Prime Minster of Solomon Islands, Honorable Gordon Darcy Lilo stressed the need “to work together to halt the extinction of species" because in one way or another we are dependent on healthy ecosystems, "we take from the bounty of nature".

Various scientific findings, such as those reported by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiveristy and Ecosystem Services, show that biodiversity continues to decline at the global level. Consequently, conservation efforts have been redoubled over the last decade, most aiming to halt the loss of species and the ecosystems they support.

The gathering this week in Honiara of more than 70 species researchers and experts, working in the region, allows for sharing of knowledge and best practices and prioritization of species for future research and conservation action.

The wide range of presentations submitted for this forum demonstrate that a lot of conservation work is being done in the Pacific. "However there are also still many gaps in our knowledge of species," added Prime Minister Lilo. "In order to make informed decisions, a sound knowledge of species, their distribution, and their conservation status is needed".

"From this forum, recommendations will be produced for Pacific Islands governments and organizations working in the Pacific to include in their national as well as regional plans, " says Taholo Kami, Regional Director of IUCN Oceania Regional Office. "This is the first step in a process that connects the efforts of conservation scientists to Pacific communities and their decision makers."

"Ultimately for species to be conserved, they must be appreciated by our people," said Prime Minister Lilo in closing. "We must ensure that we establish links for scientific knowledge and traditional knowledge so that decisions at the highest level are also supported by decisions by our communities and villages to conserve and manage our species".

The Forum is being hosted by the Government of the Solomon Islands in partnership with Conservation International, BirdLife International, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation, IUCN's Species Survival Commission, the University of the South Pacific, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Fonds Pacifique and IUCN.

For more information, or to set up interviews, please contact:
Salote Sauturaga, IUCN Oceania Regional Office Communications Officer, m+679 8581619, e salote.sauturaga@iucn.org