UNESCO Partnership: East Rennell- Solomon Islands

01.21.13

  • Lavagu Beach Sunset Copyright Greg Taieha

Inscribed on the List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1998, East Rennell forms part of the island of Rennell, the southernmost island in the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean. At 86 km long, 15 km wide and with a surface area of 87,500 hectares, Rennell is the largest raised coral atoll in the world. One of the major features of the island is Lake Tegano, the former lagoon of the atoll and the largest lake in all the Pacific islands. The surrounding karst terrain has a dense cover of indigenous forest that has remained in its natural state, exhibiting a rich biodiversity with many endemic species, including four species and nine subspecies of land and water birds respectively, one endemic bat as well as seven endemic land snails.

This site was the first natural property inscribed on the World Heritage List with customary ownership and management. Approximately 1,200 inhabitants of Polynesian origin occupy four villages within the boundaries of the property, where they practise subsistence agriculture, hunting and fishing. Frequent cyclones can have severe consequences for the local people and the biota, and the rising lake water levels from climate change are adversely affecting some staple food crops.
 
Apart from the use of forest products for construction materials, the natural vegetation has been largely undisturbed by human activity and no invasive species of animals or plants which could pose a risk to the ecosystem of the island have been observed.

Jaeger-LeCoultre invites you to discover the photographic reports and video coverage of East Rennell on the website of The New York Times starting from 21 January 2013.