Fiji was a global attraction at the International Coral Reef Symposium

Fiji delegates shared conservation success stories and ongoing efforts at the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Cairns, Australia (9-13 July 2012). Fiji was represented by partner organizations from the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) network, including WCS Fiji (Stacy, Margy, Akuila and I made up our team), the Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS) at the University of the South Pacific, and SeaWeb.

Although not officially part of the coral triangle hotspot, Fiji was shown to be a marine biodiversity hotspot in Stacy’s presentation. Margy captured a lot of attention by linking traditional knowledge to protecting spawning aggregation sites in Fiji. Akuila shared his story on the importance of adaptive management. I became a celebrity, posing with my poster on “Consideration of disturbance history for resilient MPA network design”. Ron Vave (IAS), charmed the audience with his findings on the effectiveness of locally managed marine areas in Fiji, while Saki Fong (IAS) shed more light on the socioeconomic implications of establishing these marine protected areas. Semesi Meo gave the audience a show on ecological effectiveness of community-based management in Fiji. Alifereti Tawake (a former IAS staff member, now a PhD student at James Cook University) talked about social and cultural attributes of effective adaptive management systems.

                   

Our shared experiences of conservation on the ground were enough to let the world know about Fiji. The reports from international students who have worked in Fiji got other people interested in working in these beautiful islands in the future – this really gave us a boost to hear their enthusiasm.

ICRS was a great chance for us to network with a number of leading conservation managers and scientists from all over the world. At the same time we were digesting as much information as possible from the diverse efforts being undertaken internationally to ensure coral reefs thrive in the future.

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.

Climate change adaptation, Fiji-style

Here are the 3 parts of Fiji One’s ‘Close Up’ show, including an interview with WCS Fiji Director Dr Stacy Jupiter. The footage was shot earlier this month in the remote Daria village, Wainunu, when the communities launched their network of 7 terrestrial, freshwater and marine protected areas. Luckily the sun shone for the filming; a rare treat in the famously rainy Wainunu.

This new protected area network covers 52 km2, with 6km2 in 4 periodically harvested fisheries closures (tabu areas) and the remaining 46km2 in 3 upland protected areas; equivalent to 5% of the Wainunu traditional fisheries management area and 17% of the district lands. The marine protected areas focus on resilient reefs which have the best chance of ensuring future food security in the face of climate change.

 

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

Part 3

Marine protected areas blessed in Wainunu district

Symbolic blessing of the marine protected area network of Wainunu.

The villagers of Wainunu District (Bua Province, Fiji) gathered yesterday at Daria village to watch a special ceremony – the blessing of their new protected area network by chiefs and church leaders. Community leaders also signed their district ridge-to-reef management plan. The protected area network includes 4 marine protected areas and 3 forest protected areas, and covers almost 50 km2. Stacy Jupiter (WCS Fiji’s Director) and Sirilo Dulanaqio (Community Liaison Officer) attended the ceremony on behalf of WCS Fiji.

We feel very privileged to have worked with the dedicated and enthusiastic people of Wainunu over the last 2 years: first we gathered biological and socio-economic data, then we facilitated the identification of the protected areas through a series of community workshops and consultations. We have supported the villages to form a resource management committee which is now responsible for implementing the new ecosystem-based management plan for the district. The actions laid out in this plan are designed to boost the health of the forests, rivers and reefs upon which the people of Wainunu depend and which contribute to the incredible diversity of the Vatu-i-Ra Seascape.

You can find more photos of the launch event on our Facebook page at this link, and a description of the event in this Fiji Times article. You download the full Wainunu Ecosystem-based Management Plan from tinyurl.com/WainunuEBMPlan.

This project was kindly supported by grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US Department of Commerce), and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Give coral reefs a chance

It was a pleasure conducting the reef resilience “Training of Trainers” workshop in Suva in February. As a part of the outcomes of the training, and requests from participants, WCS Fiji has developed community-friendly posters on:

1. Spotting signs of stress on your reef

2. Considerations for a resilient marine protected area

Please get in touch through infofiji@wcs.org if you would like copies of these posters to help your community better manage their marine resources!

This project was kindly supported by grants from The Nature Conservancy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US Department of Commerce).