Supporting Local and Traditional Knowledge with Science for Adaptation to Climate Change in Solomon Islands

PHOTO: Boeboe community members add markers for local and traditonal ecological knowledge to the relief model of their village. Photo from J. X. Leon et al.(

A 2015 case study by Leon, Hardcastle, James, Albert, Kreseka and Woodroffe reported on the use of participatory three-dimensional modelling (P3DM) in Boeboe village, Solomon Islands. The study documented the incorporation of local and traditional knowledge with scientific data of coastal hazards to inform decision-making and management.

BoeBoe village, like other coastal communities in the Coral Triangle, is threatened by climate change, particularly by sea-level rise which could affect livelihoods, cultural heritage, and infrastructure.

The study described how villagers and scientists built a physical scale model of the community, overlaid it with the location of important local resources, and incorporated these into a geographic information system (GIS). Sea-level rise inundation mapping, performed by the lead author, predicted an increase of flooded areas and possible submerging of important  community structures.

According to the authors, the community used the model to develop strategies and guide adaptation planning efforts. Despite discrepancies in scale and accuracy, information from both the P3DM and GIS were complementary, the study showed.

The authors noted that integrating traditional and scientific knowledge is imperative to improving adaptation strategies, while community-based adaptation built on local knowledge is important for environmental management.

The project was part of a wider led by the Lauru Land Conference of Tribal Communities and Partners with Melanesians, funded

by the Australian Government/AusAid Partnership, and implemented through The Nature Conservancy (TNC). To know more about the study, you can access the full-text here.

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