Digital Heritage

Space Technology Applications for Monitoring of East Rennell World Heritage site of Solomon Islands.


      The East Rennell Island of Solomon Islands was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998. Following a series of concerns over potential mining and forestry activities, mainly in areas outside of the World Heritage site, the East Rennell World Natural Heritage was declared a World Heritage in Danger in 2013. HIST was contracted by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris, assisted by finances from a Netherlands Funds-in-Trust (NFiT), to undertake a study of the East Rennell World Heritage site based on satellite images as well as GIS data and other relevant tools and technologies. 
   HIST successfully carried out the project during 2014-2016, including the organization of a stakeholders workshop, in February 2016, in Sanya, Hainan Province, China, with the participation of representatives of Solomon Island and East Rennell Provincial and local Governments, HIST/AIR staff and experts and a selected number of international experts. HIST contributed financially as well as in-kind assistance using its own expertise for the project. HIST/AIR experts were responsible for acquiring and analyzing relevant satellite data and using them to interpret past trends in forest cover change for the whole of the East Rennell Island and its implications for the future conservation of the World Heritage site and the sustainable development of the Island’s forestry and natural resources. HIST has submitted its report to the World Heritage Centre at the end of March 2016. Contents and recommendations of the report were used by the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO for preparing the state of conservation report of East Rennell Island to the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee in Istanbul, Turkey convened during 10-20 July 2016. Scientific publications deriving from the data gathered during this project are under preparation. 
      East Rennell is the first-ever natural area managed under customary law which was granted World Heritage status. Its future conservation therefore has important implications not only for Solomon Islands but also for other Pacific Island nations where community ownership of land and resources is the norm. As in the case of the REAS project in Cambodia referred to earlier, work on East Rennell World Heritage site could continue with potential engagement of Australian organizations that have a mandate to build capacity on remote sensing applications among Pacific Island Nations