Kokonut Pacific
Our partner Kokonut Pacific in the Solomon Islands has been implementing an impressive Community Development Project this year, which is mitigating the catastrophic effects of an unexpected and new problem threatening the main export of these remote islands. There is a major Biosecurity crisis caused by the invasive attack of the Coconut Rhinoceros beetle (CRB) on the palm trees. The infestation was first publicized two years ago, and since then the invasive species has spread all around the oil palm plantations, causing significant risks to the economic security, social cohesion, and political stability.

The results are stunning: over a four year period, the stock of coconut palms has plummeted by 77% - from about 13,000 palms in 2014 to only some 3,000 palms in 2018. Through collaboration and constructive problem solving, the decimation of the trees will be turned around to be disposed of safely while also gaining some salvage value from this Biosecurity crisis. Through recycling dead coconut palms the project will create lumber, charcoal, and biochar for export and local use. 

The CRB beetle is infiltrating two of the main pillars of the Solomon Island rural economy, posing significant risk to the other two main species of palm exports. Because of the uncertainty of the actual extent of damage, an aerospace company was first briefed on the crisis. This company donated a time-series set of Pleiades satellite images of the area to survey the damage to the trees. After an analysis of the palm counts for 2014 as the pre-infestation baseline, then other counts in 2016 and 2018, it was known for certain that drastic steps needed to be taken to mitigate the major damage the CRB beetles are causing. Once the satellite images were analyzed, a coordinator was appointed to verify the palm damage via on site visits, establish the costs of removing the trees and converting them to lumber, fuel, and fertilizer, and manage this effort as well as the removal of breeding sites of the beetle.