Barekasi Rainforest Reserve ecotourism for income generation
Research facilitation and ecotourism are other strong possibilities for income generation and knowledge capture. One NRDF priority is supporting the development of the Barekasi Rainforest Reserve’s (BRR) ecotourism project on Vella Lavella Island in the Western Province. By sharing the natural beauty of the BRR with tourists, the community has a unique opportunity to sustainably generate income. Tourism must be managed carefully to reduce impacts on the culture and ecosystem.
This ecotourism project will involve 2-3 day treks to accommodate 4-6 tourists into the reserve. This project involves: managing the visitors’ eco-lodge compound and the tourist activities; constructing environmentally-friendly facilities for visitors, including use of local materials, solar power and rain water collection; and developing activities for visitors, such as walking trails that minimise the impact on the environment and ecosystem.
The BRR is the last intact lowland rainforest area on Vella Lavella, as large scale logging has devastated most of the island over the last decade. The BRR covers approximately 800ha of rainforest. The reserve lies in a valley, surrounded by hills and mountains, and houses a wide variety of plants, trees, birds, mammals and insects. The reserve contains a large freshwater system catchment area, on which Leona Village is dependent. A number of sacred Tambu sites are found in the area, which are of great importance to the cultural heritage of the Barekasi Tribe. The Reserve has been protected since 2009.