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.

Go West! Community-based management spreads in the Vatu-i-Ra Seascape

Participants from Solevu district map out their protected areas at the management planning workshop in Daria village, November 2011.

The WCS field team left behind the familiar villages of Kubulau to travel westward to seven villages in Nadi and Solevu Districts, Bua Province, Vanua Levu. Their mission was to find out about some important decisions made at recent village meetings, regarding proposed protected areas and district-wide rules—for the seas, the mangroves, the rivers and the forests of these two districts. These areas and rules were originally proposed by workshop attendees from Nadi and Solevu districts, who joined the Wainunu Management Planning workshop which was held in Daria village, Wainunu District, in November 2011.

 

Solevu has identified seven tabu areas in their qoliqoli and along the coast, including the whole of Solevu’s outer reef as a district marine protected area. Three terrestrial and freshwater tabu areas have been identified, which aim to protect Solevu’s main water catchment. Similarly ambitious, Nadi has proposed twelve marine and coastal tabu areas, also including their whole outer reef in a district marine protected area. Nadi’s forests and rivers will also be protected with five freshwater and terrestrial tabu areas.

At the Bose Vanua meeting for Solevu on 16 March, all tabu areas were finalised. A signing ceremony for Solevu will be arranged to formally launch the network of protected areas. In Nadi district, the village tabu areas are already in place, while the district marine protected area is awaiting confirmation.

Both districts have urgently requested awareness-raising and education on nature conservation issues. As well as this, the districts will form resource management committees who will then be able to develop draft management plans with the support of WCS Fiji. These draft management plans will include the finalized maps and rules for protected areas as well as the wider district, information about enforcement of protected areas and—importantly—a list of agreed steps which will be taken to make sure that the aims of the management plan will be met.

These new tabu areas are an exciting addition to the existing network of community-managed protected areas, that started in Kubulau and is currently being expanded into Wainunu and Wailevu districts. By acting together, the benefits for the whole Vatu-i-Ra Seascape will be the greatest. Communities of Bua and Cakaudrove provinces are taking the right steps for the health of their natural resources and for their own livelihoods—now and for the future.

The Adventures of Joji Goby

Like fish (and invertebrate) puppets? Want to see environmental education in action? Then watch this short video we have made about a recent WCS Fiji trip to five schools in Kubulau and Wainunu districts to launch our comic “The Adventures of Joji Goby” with puppet shows. The puppets were made from recycled materials by Anne O’Brien of Anniemals. The project was kindly supported by the Disney Friends for Change Programme.

First steps to clean drinking water

Well-forested water catchments are the perfect way to manage and maintain drinking water supply. A small group from WCS Fiji last week visited Nadivakarua and Namalata, two villages in Kubulau District, Bua Province, to map out their water sources and assess any environmental threats to the future sustainability of the water source. Protecting the catchment immediately surrounding the water source is the first step to having a reliable source of clean water for the future.

Following the survey, Namalata village has decided to draw a 200 metre radius buffer around their water source where farming and clearing will be prohibited. Currently, farming has crept up to around 50 metres from the water source in places, meaning that the water source is at risk of drying up in a drought. Already, the water source is only a small creek which is a worrying sign.

The survey found a well-forested area around the water source for Nadivakarua village – village elders agree this water source has never dried up, even when some other villages in Kubulau district run short of water during the dry season. Nadivakarua have marked a track around the water source, to make sure that farming doesn’t encroach on the forest near the source. These community decisions will be incorporated into the Kubulau ecosystem-based management plan which is currently being updated as part of an adaptive management process.

Comics Delight Kids

WCS Fiji have just returned from launching a comic book titled “The Adventurers of Joji Goby” at 5 different schools in Kubulau and Wainunu, Bua. The comic is about the life-cycle of Joji a freshwater goby, which hatches in freshwater before migrating to sea as larvae and migrating back as post-larvae. Joji met with a lot of obstacles upon his return journey, on his quest to find his parents. The launch included a puppet show of Joji’s adventure followed by the designation of Goby Youth Ambassadors for each village, who will help with the enforcement of rules in ecosystem-based management plans for the two districts. The comic was created using funds from the Disney Friends for Change Program. You can see more photos of the launch and the very special puppets on the WCS Fiji Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/wcsfijiprogram.