In September 2015, a team from The University of South Pacific's (USP) Institute of Applied Science (IAS) led a ground-breaking expedition to the interior of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands - one of CEPF's priority Key Biodiversity Areas - to document its unique and diverse flora and fauna. As the highest island in the Pacific, Guadalcanal’s mountainous interior is home to thousands of plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world
Dr Sarah Pene, a Research Fellow at USP, and part of the expedition botanical team, said "expeditions such as this provide the scientific basis for informed decision-making and help to guide conservation policy". Of the important preliminary findings, two frog species in the genus Platymantis were collected, which are thought to be never-before documented by scientists; and about 90 species of ants were documented, many of which are new to science. The expedition also allowed an important capacity building opportunity for early-career scientists from the Solomon Islands, who were able to partner with experienced taxonomists to carry out the sampling and collection of plant and animal specimens.
Another objective of the expedition was to strengthen the Uluna-Sutahuri tribal people customary relationships with their traditional dwelling areas as it held sacred places of origin and cultural power and practice. Noelyne Biliki, of the Uluna-Sutahuri tribe reminisced about her childhood spent in the mountains, adding that the expedition served as a memorable experience for the elders in reconnecting with the land they grew up on, and for the young people, a chance to visit their former dwelling land and experience its abundance of plant and animal life.
The scientific team presented some of the highlights of the expedition at a post-expedition press conference in Honiara, attended by Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Douglas Ete, who pledged his government’s support for the creation of a legally protected area of conservation in the expedition site.