Sharing learning and achievements on sustainably managing and adding value to sea grapes in Western Province Solomon Islands – a true nature-based solution

Posted on 19 June 2024
Nerolyn Loni, Community Facilitator of Sairagi Community standing beside one of the galleries displayed during the launch.
© WWF-Pacific / Torn Parachute

Honiara, Solomon Islands – Four communities in Western Province are sharing with stakeholders in Honiara their learning and achievements on how to sustainably manage and harvest sea grapes, as well as showcasing the body lotion and soap they have made from the species of algae.

This project, which has been in development for the past 18 months, aims to improve the management of sea grape ecosystems and enhance the livelihoods of local women.

Henry Kaniki, WWF-Solomon Island's Conservation Program Manager, highlighted the importance of this initiative, stating, "This project incentivizes sustainable sea grape harvesting practices by supporting the development of women-led community enterprises that rely on health and abundant sea grapes. By improving the management of sea grapes and related ecosystems such as mangroves and coral reefs, we are enhancing climate resilience and supporting the economic stability of these communities."

The communities of
Kongulavata, Sairagi, Boboe, and Pusiju have been actively engaged in developing sustainable management plans for their local reefs, sea grapes, and mangrove ecosystems. These efforts have included integrating traditional practices with scientific data to ensure the health and sustainability of their marine resources. Scientific monitoring of sea grape cover in the communities shows that there has been an increase in average sea grape cover, indicative of increased presence of sea grape production and expansion since the project began.

Confirming these results, Freda Kamikera, a sea grape harvester and Community Facilitator from
Kongulavata said that their sea grapes are healthier since improved management practices began. “I have seen that the seaweed, since we have been better at managing it, is growing really well. Places where we didn’t have sea grapes before, now grow. Before, many harvesters pulled up the whole sea grape plant, but now they just prune the shoots.”

The communities have also been working to add value to their sea grapes by transforming them into other products. The products, which include jasmine, eucalyptus, and peppermint sea grape body lotion, as well as sea grape soap, were showcased in a learning event yesterday in Honiara. In addition, the launch of the products in Gizo last month was a huge success with the communities receiving significant positive feedback and demand for the soap and lotion.

Nerolyn Lori, a female Community Facilitator from Sairagi, expressed her excitement about the project, stating, "The value-adding training has been an eye-opener for me. I look forward to implementing this knowledge into our local products. This initiative not only boosts our income but also strengthens our community's commitment to sustainable practices."

This project is supported by
Climate Resilient by Nature (CRxN), an Australian Government initiative in partnership with WWF-Australia. CRxN supports nature-based solutions that restore and protect critical ecosystems, build sustainable livelihoods, and increase resilience to climate shocks.

This initiative is also focussed on documenting and sharing best practices and the women and girls who harvest sea grapes have worked with WWF to develop a manual and video to showcase their methods. The manual and video document for the first time in Solomon Islands the indigenous and traditional knowledge that these communities in Western Province use to inform their sea grape management, harvesting, processing and selling and how this can be combined with conservation tools to enhance outcomes for people and planet.

There is a summary of key threats to sea grape health; an overview of sea grape monitoring methods and sea grape management plans and a step by step guide with photos on the harvesting process. Sea grape growing communities in other parts of Solomon Islands, other Pacific island countries and Asia will be able to use the manual to support them in better managing their own marine resources.

Nerolyn Loni, Community Facilitator of Sairagi Community standing beside one of the galleries displayed during the launch.
© WWF-Pacific / Torn Parachute Enlarge
Representatives from different stakeholders attending the launching of the sea grapes value added products.
© WWF-Pacific / Torn Parachute Enlarge
Peter Kenilorea, Acting Deputy Director Inshore (DDI), Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) delivers the official opening of the program.
© WWF-Pacific / Torn Parachute Enlarge
Shannon Seeto, WWF-SI country manager delivering the opening speech at the launch.
© WWF-Pacific / Torn Parachute Enlarge
WWF-SI Conservation manager Mr. Henry Kaniki delivering the overview of the NbS project at the launching.
© WWF-Pacific / Torn Parachute Enlarge