Planet Portfolio

Sky Islands Indigenous Guardianship

Ensuring people and nature thrive through support for Indigenous guardianship

Ferafolia and Mai-Maasina, Solomon Islands

About this Project

Located in the Southwest Pacific, the Solomon Islands is a vast ocean country consisting of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands. The archipelago is globally recognized for its unique flora and fauna. The cool, humid, and isolated mountaintops are known as the “Sky Islands,” where entirely new life forms are constantly emerging. Communities and cultures across the archipelago have maintained a deep spiritual connection to nature and place, and particularly, to the often sacred, historic, and biologically unique cloud forest.

Even though many of the lowland forests have been decimated, the intact upper reaches of many islands remain as a precious wellspring of vital cultural, physical, and ecological wellbeing. To protect them, the Solomon Islands government signed the Sky Islands pledge in 2018 to ban logging, mining, and other commercial activities starting at the 400-meter contour line. Two years later, the Malaita Province, the most populous province of Solomon Islands, committed to implement the Sky Islands pledge, becoming the first of nine provinces to do so. They did so as part of their commitment to restore biocultural vitality through economic activities.

For the Sky islands initiative to proliferate across the province, Nia Tero provides technical support and funding to grassroots and local organizations committed to the Sky Islands pledge across 20+ locations in Malaita. This project supports (1) key activities in Ferafolia and Wai-hau, two locations anchoring Sky Islands on Malaita, (2) environmental health monitoring of the Sky Islands in the province, and (3) the design of a long-term funding approach for Sky Islands in Malaita. It is in partnership with Indigenous communities and grassroots organizations that conservation actions will secure the Sky Islands for the long term.

Why We Picked This Project

Indigenous cultures and the lives of environmental defenders are under threat in Solomon Islands, especially in the face of policies promoting clearcutting of forests for tropical timber exports to Asia and the strip mining of shallow rock minerals such as bauxite and nickel. This region is dispersed, isolated and heavily reliant on intact social and cultural practice within integrated marine and terrestrial ecosystems for survival. Supporting surveillance and guardianship activities ensures that Indigenous peoples and their descendants can protect the integrity of their cultures, through continued access to food and income, coastal protection, carbon storage, and essential habitat for marine plants and animals.

The well-being of all humanity relies on Indigenous peoples’ ability to sustain their cultures and territories. These territories contain vast above ground carbon stocks, vast stores of below-ground carbon, 80% of Earth species, and 40% of remaining intact ecosystems. Securing Indigenous territories goes beyond climate mitigation but is also an essential part of it.

Our Assessment of this Project

Project Developer

Standards & Certifications

  • Not applicable


Apr 2023 - FPIC completed

Documentation of completed FPIC Process

Jun 2023 - Model designed

Projections of Impact and Design of Model for clients complete

Oct 2023 - Long-term plan developed

Concept design for Malaita-wide portfolio of projects including 20 more locations

Dec 2023 - Project complete

Development of Indigenous terrain mapping report (ITM) for the two territories & Development of project entry & sustainment framework (ESF) for the two territories

Benefits & Impact


  • Protects an archipelago consisting of 990 islands that encompass the single highest concentration of marine biodiversity on the planet

  • Implementation of an Indigenous-designed free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) process using tools developed within Indigenous organizations in the Solomon Islands

  • Allows Malaitans access to satellite data necessary to monitor territorial threats and collect data that is most important to them

  • Enables testing of Indigenous-led funding models that can be replicated throughout the Pacific

Sustainable Development Goals

This project supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Reduced InequalitiesClimate ActionLife Below WaterLife On Land

Additional Information

Additionality Summary

Project funding directly supports the efforts of the local communities to patrol, survey, and protect their territories in the face of record illegal activity and incursions.