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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.

Environmental planning at provincial level in Macuata

Communities, government departments, NGOs and the private sector came together on 22-24 August in a significant step towards a natural resource management plan for Macuata province.

Hosted by Macuata Provincial Office with support from WWF, the planning workshop took place at the Civic Centre in the provincial town of Labasa in the north of Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island. Macuata is one of 14 provinces and contains some of Fiji’s most intact ecosystems (from Welewara to Udu Point in the north-west) as well as some the most degraded (Qawa river catchment and around Wainikoro). Macuata’s customary fishing grounds include part of the Great Sea Reef, the third largest coral reef ecosystem in the world.

Stakeholders explored a wide range of issues; establishing a vision, identifying priority areas and drafting a structure for natural resource management. They outlined a key role for the Provincial Office, district environment committees and traditional leaders to link community, district (tikina) and provincial activities. They formed management recommendations for the Great Sea Reef (initially to undertake research and establish a network of marine protected areas, MPAs) and mapped out a wide range of existing and proposed priority areas for conservation.

Stakeholders mapping conservation areas during the workshop

Presentations on national and provincial strategies highlighted economic development plans emerging from the government’s Look North Policy, such as Bauxite mining at Dreketi and a new international port in next few years. The stream of trucks taking cane through town to the mill each night reminded us that sugar has shaped the local landscape and economy. During the workshop ANZ bank announced a $120million loan to Fiji Sugar Corporation. As that industry redefines itself, it was particularly good to see its representatives involved in discussions on how Macuata’s ecosystems can be sustainably managed for future generations.

Deputy Permanent Secretary for i-Taukei Affairs Colonel Apakuki Kurusiga, participating in the workshop, noted that “Macuata is the first province to start management planning on this scale, setting a great example for other provinces to ensure that provincial development and sustainability go hand in hand”. With that in mind, the Macuata process provides valuable lessons for upscaling natural resource managment planning in Fiji. We hope these can be applied in other provinces, and particularly towards WCS Fiji’s forthcoming involvement in Integrated Coastal Management planning in the neighbouring province of Bua.

Fiji communities cross boundaries for conservation in Cakaudrove

Mapping proposed protected area locations for Nakawaga.

When the villagers of Nakawaga and Nukubolu heard about Ecosystem-Based Management developing in the neighbouring district (tikina) of Wailevu, they approached WCS Fiji to find out more. Nakawaga and Nukubolu are located in the heavily forested, steep sided upper valley of the Nasekawa River, in the district of Koroalau in Cakaudrove Province. They are approximately 10km upstream from the district border, along the Nasekawa River which crosses Wailevu before discharging into Savusavu Bay.

Recognising their ecological and hydrological connectivity with ecosystems downstream, Nakawaga and Nukubolu hosted an awareness raising workshop and have now made links with Wailevu East Resource Management Committee (WERMC) in July. They will play active role in WERMC, adding their own experience of having managed the upper catchment (protecting a 2km stretch of river for over 10 years) and developed a range of community ecotourism activities.

Veresa Matakaruru, a Nakawaga village elder, said “We Fijian communities are connected by our forests, rivers and natural resources, as well as by our culture. We welcome the opportunity to work with different tikina, to help each other and preserve the natural environment with which we are blessed”.

Ecosystem-Based Management is taking shape in Nadi and Solevu

Two more districts in Vanua Levu are establishing Ecosystem-Based Management Plans to safeguard their natural resources.

The districts of Nadi and Solevu, situated in the province of Bua, rely heavily on natural resources to meet their subsistence needs. In November 2011, they sent representatives to a management planning workshop in the nearby district of Wainunu, where they found out more about environmental issues and Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM), which fuses scientific principles with local and traditional ecological knowledge to promote sustainable management of terrestrial, freshwater, estuarine, coastal and marine habitats. These representatives took part in a conceptual modeling exercise which identified conservation targets, threats affecting those targets and strategies through which the threats could be addressed.

Participants at a workshop in Nadi devise management rules for their terrestrial & marine protected areas.

In January 2012, WCS Fiji has facilitated further consultation with each village in Nadi and Solevu. Recent district-wide workshops have further defined networks of freshwater, terrestrial and marine protected areas and sets of rules to govern the management of natural resources. These rules and protected area network will provide the basis for Ecosystem-Based Management Plans to maintain healthy, productive and resilient ecosystems in order to overcome pressure from population growth and climate change, enhance local quality of life and meet the needs of future generations.

WCS Fiji’s Director Stacy Jupiter stated “We would like to thank the leaders and communities of Nadi and Solevu. They should be congratulated on their progress and we look forward to supporting the development and implementation of their management plans.”

Children of Solveu will reap the benefits of the new protected area network.

WCS Fiji has applied EBM in working with communities in adjoining districts of Kubulau, Wainunu and Wailevu along the south of Vanua Levu. The expanding reach of this approach reflects its success (particularly in Kubulau where the approach has been established for longest), associated growth in demand from communities and WCS Fiji’s focus on the Vatu-i-Ra Ecoscape, one of Fiji’s last great wild places.

Wailevu communities moving forward together

Communities in Wailevu came together in April to finalise plans promoting sustainable use and conservation of their natural resources.

Wailevu is siituated in the province of Cakaudrove in Vanua Levu. Consisting of 30 villages and significant settlements, it is geographically the largest district in Fiji. Well known for farming dalo and yaqona, the district is also home to Waisali Forest Reserve, the Mount Kasi gold mine, an established pearl farm and a range of community eco-tourism sites.

Building on the success of Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) in neighbouring Kubulau, WCS Fiji is supporting Wailevu communities to develop a collaborative plan through which to protect local habitats, promote sustainable resource management and enhance quality of life.

The plan will be implemented and monitored by a Resource Management Committee in Wailevu West and another in the East of the district. “It is good to see such strong support from all the villages. With the backing of our Chiefs, we have been working together to identify tabu areas and management rules that will preserve our resources for future generations” stated Timoci Rokosuli, Chairman of the Wailevu West Resource Management Committee. “We thank WCS for their support and look forward to working together for the benefit of Wailevu”.

A range of stakeholders have also been involved in developing the plans. Jone Vakamino from the Cakaudrove Yaubula Management Support Team said he had attended several workshops in the past six months. “The Roko Tui has seen the value of this work and the Provincial Council is actively supportive”, he stated “the communities are taking responsibility to ensure a healthy environment. This can also benefit them economically, with potential for ecotourism projects like the one that is growing in Bagata”.

EBM fuses scientific principles with local and traditional ecological knowledge to promote sustainable management of terrestrial, freshwater, estuarine, coastal and marine habitats. It aims to maintain healthy, productive and resilient ecosystems that can overcome pressure from population growth and climate change to meet the needs of future generations.

Fiji Youth Ministry takes up the environmental challenge

Children in Wailevu district, Cakaudrove, with mangrove seeds. Photo (c) Stacy Jupiter

Environmental issues will be at the heart of Fiji’s youth agenda – helping young people to address key environmental challenges. WCS Fiji attended a recent Ministry of Youth and Sport consultation workshop to inform strategies and plans for this new Ministry.

The workshop identified barriers and gaps affecting the engagement of young people and made recommendations for the Ministry, including:

  • Capacity building on youth engagement for traditional leaders (particularly Turaga ni Koro through i-Taukei Affairs)
  • Influence existing church and youth groups to tackle environmental challenges
  • Involve young people in monitoring their local environment
  • Incorporate climate change awareness/adaptation (in a Fijian context) into the national curriculum – empowering young people to participate in informed community debate and decision making processes
  • Showcase/promote good practice in youth engagement

We look forward to supporting the Ministry and young people in Fiji to make a better future for all.