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Ged is our Stakeholder Engagement Officer - working to ensure that a wide range of stakeholders are taken into consideration, from the communities to national level. Ged is great at drinking grog, but still working on being comfortable while sitting cross-legged.

Launching the Wailevu Ecosystem-Based Management Plan

In beautiful Wailevu village, overlooking the stunning blue waters of Savusavu Bay, a formal ceremony took place outside the home of Tui Wailevu, Ratu Kinijoji Rarokoqica Maivalili (High Chief of the District) to launch the Wailevu District Ecosystem-Based Management Plan.

In front of assorted Chiefs, representatives of government, NGOs and community members, the Tui Wailevu spoke of his support for the management plan and the need to safeguard precious local environmental resources. “This is a historic occasion for the people of Wailevu” he stated, “I thank the Provincial Office, the Wildlife Conservation Society and other partners for their support as we take steps to manage our resources for future generations”.

The management plan, developed by communities over the past two years, includes management rules for a network totaling 67Km2 of marine, freshwater and terrestrial protected areas, as well as additional regulations to protect local resources within the district and its customary fishing grounds (iqoliqoli).

It was great to see so many partners and community representatives present as High Chiefs signed the document and it was blessed in a ceremony on the beach.

Dr. Stacy Jupiter, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Fiji Country Program had flown in to take part. “This reflects a community-driven approach that is informed by extensive scientific assessments alongside local ecological knowledge”, she stated. “I congratulate the people of Wailevu on the management plan, which provides a focus for them working together to maintain healthy ecosystems that benefit all communities.”

Wailevu is the largest district in Fiji, with 27 villages and over 6,000 people. Considerable coordination is required for effective management across its large terrestrial and marine areas. Two resource management committees have been established (for Wailevu West and Wailevu East) to deliver the plan and report progress to traditional leaders through the Bose Vanua. The management plan also includes communities in the Upper Nasekawa River Basin area of neighbouring Koroalau district, demonstrating a commitment to cooperation across boundaries as part of an Ecosystem-Based Management approach.

The Roko Tui Cakaudrove, Bulutani Mataitawakilai also offered his support. “The Cakaudrove Provincial Council Office congratulates the people of Wailevu, who have recognised the importance of working together to protect their natural resources for future generations. Working with Cakaudrove Yaubula Management Support Team, the Provincial Office will continue to support the Vanua Wailevu and encourages other Tikina in the Province to adopt their approach. We thank the Tui Wailevu and his Masi ni Vanua for adopting and supporting sustainable natural resources management”.

So much work has gone into the planning process, but this is only a starting point. With plenty to be done in raising awareness, implementing and monitoring the plan, I guess this is where the real work begins!

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Branching out with the Community Educators Network

The Community Educators’ Network, which WCS and partners have been supporting in Kubulau, will be rolled-out across Bua in 2013.

Community Educators receive training that enables them to provide information, facilitate and inform local debate on key issues.

The idea is that this will empower communities and influence local decision-making, helping to address problems and encouraging sustainable management of natural resources.

Alumeci Nakeke from Seaweb presented this to the Bua Yaubula Management Support Team and partners at a recent workshop.

‘This has been a great way of localizing and spreading information for sustainable resource management in Kubulau – now we want other districts to benefit in a similar way’.

Modules are being developed on freshwater management, marine protected areas, disaster management, farming and forestry.  Seaweb will work closely with BYMST, the Provincial Office, PCDF, WCS and others to identify and train Community Educators.  Great to see everyone working together towards shared goals!

News from Bua

BYMST Coordinator Akuila Qio Turaganiqali

BYMST Coordinator Akuila Qio Turaganiqali

Bua Yaubula Management Support Team (BYMST) brings together representatives from the 9 districts Bua (the rural western province of Vanua Levu) for sustainable management of natural resources.

Thanks to funding from the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Program, BYMST representatives met up with government officials and NGOs in Nabouwalu on 19-20th Feb to plan and coordinate activities.

BYMST Coordinator Akuila Qio Turaganiqale introduced the Roko Tui Bua, who opened the workshop by outlining Provincial priorities for 2013. He highlighted imminent development of the new road from Nabouwalu to Dreketi (reducing travel time to Labasa and Savusavu) and urged communities to take advantage of opportunities arising from this.  The Provincial Administrator from the Commissioner Northern’s Office provided further detail on this and other big projects including the plans for Nabouwalu to become Bua’s first town!

The people of Bua are looking to achieve a difficult balance between economic development and maintaining the ecosystems upon which they rely. BYMST will surely play a vital role.

Having heard what different NGOs are delivering (and identified ways we can link up), the BYMST reps drafted their own plan for 2013. This will start by developing the BYMST structure (enhancing their influence through better links with chiefs and government officers) and operational guidelines, obtaining funding and raising awareness. With ongoing support from Bua Provincial Office and talk of hiring a Conservation Officer to help implement plan it could be a busy and exciting year ahead.

Teambuilding fun in the forest

On Friday the WCS Fiji staff headed off on an adventurous retreat to Colo-i-Suva Forest Park.  Various commitments conspired against a Christmas party this year, so we scheduled this away-day instead. We were even joined by our esteemed Community Liaison Officer, Didi, fresh off the boat from Savusavu and just registered for his Boatmaster training in Suva.

Just 10 minutes from Suva along the Prince’s Road, Colo-i-Suva is a mix of mahogany (planted in the 1940s and 50s) and native flora and fauna. We were glad that Akuila’s booming voice didn’t scare off all the wildlife as we spotted a a Barking Pigeon and a Blue Crested Broadbill in the tree tops.

Waisea and Margi gave us an insight into some traditional uses of forest plants, including natural ‘Fijian chewing gum’ (given to children to help develop their speech), ‘soap plant’ (also known as toilet paper!) with leaves that produce a lather, a plant with an inner stem that cures mouth ulcers and another with ‘menthal vapour’ roots to clear your nose.

Akuila led the way when we reached the waterfall at lower pools – straight onto the rope-swing and into the cool clean water!  After that Stacy couldn’t resist and others followed.  Waisea showed his climbing skills, confidently getting up into the high branches before backing out and retreating down to howls of laughter.

It was uphill all the way back, stopping to check out the big freshwater prawns and a great view over eastern Suva and the Rewa Delta.

Afterwards we had a lovely lunch at Raintree lodge as the TV showed Fiji losing to Scotland and England announced their intent at the Wellington Sevens by beating New Zealand – a great end to a wonderful day!

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Local partnership for sustainability in Bua

Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network (FLMMA) is a partnership of those involved in marine conservation projects who have joined together to learn collectively and improve the success of their efforts. Every two years, FLLMA members in Bua Province come together to share information, plan and support each other.

Participants analyse data

On 26-28 November in Nabouwalu village, communities from each of Bua’s 9 districts came together in the name of FLMMA with the Provincial Office, Fisheries Department, i-Taukei Affairs, WCS and the Institute of Applied Sciences at University of the South Pacific.

As well as analyzing data and sharing experiences, participants explored growing pressures on local resources. Land is increasingly being converted for farming, landowners are tempted by lucrative logging propositions, and limited livelihoods opportunities encourage coastal communities to fish unsustainably. Major infrastructure developments are proposed including roads, ports and a new town. These will increase viability of previously untapped mineral and timber resources, opening the way for more logging and mining.
 

Participants representing each district in Bua have established the Bua Yaubula Management Support Team (BYMST)

Reflecting on how these pressures affect forests, rivers, and reef ecosystems and the services they provide, particpants were able to see the funny side when enacting how they will communicate key messages back to their communities in role-play exercise.
 
A major outcome from the workshop was a proposal to establish the Bua Yaubula Management Support Team (BYMST). Based on principles of collaboration and a ‘Ridge to Reef’ approach, BYMST has since been endorsed by the Provincial Council to help raise awareness, build capacity and coordinate sustainable resource management across Bua.
 

Along with the Ministry of i-Taukei Affairs and Bua Provincial Office, WCS will support and work closely with BYMST to address the challenges and opportunities ahead.