Fact-finding mission in Vanua Levu

This week I’m back in the office after a fascinating trip to Vanua Levu. My mission was to gather maps of areas under logging concession, as well as information about any other planned activities. WCS Fiji will use these maps in our work with landowners to identify new forest protected areas. Akanisi Caginitoba (Cagi for short) was my right-hand woman, making sure that we followed proper Fijian protocol in our visits to various offices – including always taking morning or afternoon tea to the people we were visiting!

We started in dusty Labasa, and spent a few days visiting offices there. Department of Forestry and iTaukei Land Trust Board are key contacts for mapping this kind of information. The office of the Commissioner Northern made us most welcome; in the future the Commissioner hopes to build a mapping system for the whole of Vanua Levu, to show areas for development and those to be protected for conservation.

All logging companies operating in Vanua Levu have a base in Labasa, so we spent a lot of time learning about how the logging industry works, and pouring over maps with them. We gleaned a lot of useful information. The people we met were very supportive of spatial planning, using maps to decide what activities should go where. Areas not ideal for logging are often of high conservation value because of the inaccessible nature of those forests.

From Labasa we carried on to Savusavu, to check in with WCS’ Community Liaison Officer Didi and the Cakaudrove Provincial Office. (Here we tasted the finest pizza in Vanua Levu.) Then it was a long and bumpy journey back to Nabouwalu. On the road from Dreketi to Nabouwalu we passed the famous Nawailevu bauxite mine and saw the loads of soil waiting for export.

After a night in Nabouwalu, we met with the Bua Provincial Office to discuss our project, before we caught the ferry back home to Suva. My laptop returned full of information, so this week we are very busy getting the maps ready to be used in the next stage of the project: identifying landowners to work with in order to set up community-based management of forests.

This project is kindly supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), a joint program of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank.

WCS Fiji team visited Fiji Forest Industries, near Labasa, who hold most logging concessions in Wainunu district.

 

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.

New Fish Wardens for 2012

In order to maintain sustainable resources for future generations in the Provinces of Cakaudrove and Bua in Vanua Levu, the communities of Wailevu, Wainunu, Nadi and Solevu have selected some members of their communities to be trained as fish wardens. These fish wardens will be empowered to see that their resources are use in an appropriate way.

This project was kindly supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two 3-day training sessions for the 2012 fish wardens were held: first in Natuvu, Wailevu district, and then in Navatu, Kubulau district. The training in Wailevu was officially opened by the Provincial Administrator Mr Uraia Rainima, and the Roko Tui Cakaudrove Ro Aca Mataitinihad was our chief guest who gave the certificates to the participants on the final day of the training and also officially closed the training.

There were 42 participants that attended the training in Natuvu, 30 participants were from the district of Wailevu and 12 participants were from the neighbouring districts of Somosomo, Saqani, Nakomo, Nanuca and Lekutu. WCS Fiji’s Waisea Naisilisili and Sirilo Dulunaqio were delighted to receive the training to become fish wardens themselves. In Navatu there were 27 participants, 15 from Kubulau and 12 from the neighbouring districts of Wainunu, Nadi and Solevu.

The Kubulau fish warden training was officially opened by Tomasi Cama; in his opening speech he addressed the importance of our connection to our environment through our totem fish, plants and animals. The fish warden training was conducted by Joji Vakawaletabua (Fisheries Department Nasavusavu), Tomasi Cama (Fisheries Department Bua), Nanise Kuridrani Tuqiri and Epeli Tawake (Fisheries Department Labasa) and a police officer from Nasavusavu.

To end the workshop on a positive note, on the final day of the training we managed to tag a male Hawksbill turtle and the participants named it Tui Navatu. Tui Navatu was tagged and released by the two heads of the tribe (yavusa) in Navatu, as the participants looked on. This was a memorable day as we also celebrated the reef enrichment initiative which was launched in April. The training in Kubulau was officially closed by Joji, who reminded us that we are inter-dependent with the environment: we depend on our resources and our resources depend on us.

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.