Lead­ers Back Ecosys­tem Shel­ter

Work­shop un­veils neg­a­tive im­pacts of un­sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and farm­ing prac­tices on gar­den isle of Fiji

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Tra­di­tional lead­ers on the is­land of Tave­uni in Fiji are dis­cussing ways to re­store and pro­tect their nat­u­ral ecosys­tems as a vi­able way for­ward for their is­land. At a multi-com­mu­nity work­shop was held on: ‘Nat­u­ral so­lu­tions to Cli­mate Change’ in So­mo­somo Vil­lage or­gan­ised by the Sec­re­tar­iat of the Pa­cific Re­gional En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme (SPREP). This is through its Pa­cific Ecosys­tem-based Adap­ta­tion to Cli­mate Change Project (PEBACC). The lead­ers recog­nised the im­por­tance of us­ing nat­u­ral so­lu­tions to curb cli­mate change and the neg­a­tive im­pacts of un­sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and farm­ing prac­tices on the is­land. Ratu Jone Gani­lau of the Mataqali Valelevu (Ai Sokula) clan and the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Turaga Bale na Tui Cakau, Ratu Naiqama Lal­a­bal­avu said: “This is long over­due. We must now re­for­est the is­land and go back to or­ganic farm­ing to main­tain our en­vi­ron­ment for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. “Ex­ces­sive chem­i­cal use in farm­ing for mon­e­tary gain and chop­ping down of trees right up to the moun­tains have im­pacted neg­a­tively on the en­vi­ron­ment. “We have con­cerns for our wa­ter ta­ble and also salin­ity in the soil has be­come a prob­lem re­sult­ing in smaller dalo (taro) yields.”

Tra­di­tional con­ser­va­tion­ist and co-or­di­na­tor of Bouma Na­tional Her­itage Park on Tave­uni, Sipiri­ano Qete­qete agreed. Mr Qete­qete said Tave­uni was earn­ing up to $20 mil­lion an­nu­ally from dalo ex­ports but the fig­ure had dropped dra­mat­i­cally re­cently.

“In the past, the boats would ship up to ten trucks full of dalo to Suva per ship­ment. To­day, we can’t even reach that num­ber and the trucks go half empty,” Mr Qete­qete said.

“When dalo plant­ing for ex­port was first in­tro­duced, earn­ing money was the pri­or­ity with­out con­sid­er­a­tion of the im­pacts on the en­vi­ron­ment. “Trees were cut down and chem­i­cals were used.”

Re­for­esta­tion par­tic­u­larly co­conut plant­ing, stream­side and shore­line plant­ing and cre­at­ing buf­fer zones along the rivers are some im­me­di­ate next steps for the work on the is­land. The three-day work­shop this week was an ini­tial get to­gether of com­mu­nity lead­ers on Tave­uni Is­land and is part of an Ecosys­tem Re­silience, Anal­y­sis and Map­ping (ESRAM) study for Fiji. It was com­mis­sioned by SPREP through the PEBACC project, and led by Wa­ter­shed Pro­fes­sion­als Net­work (WPN). An ESRAM study is a map­ping an anal­y­sis of so­cial eco­nomic re­silience to cli­mate change as­so­ci­ated with goods and ser­vices pro­vided by ecosys­tems. Project man­ager of the SPREP PEBACC Project, Her­man Tim­mer­mans is thrilled that the tra­di­tional lead­ers are tak­ing a lead role in driv­ing the nat­u­ral so­lu­tions to cli­mate change ap­proach on Tave­uni. “I am very pleased with the pos­i­tive way PEBACC has been re­ceived by the tra­di­tional lead­ers in Tave­uni,” Mr Tim­mer­mans said. “Their sup­port pro­vides a strong foun­da­tion to carry the project for­ward. “We look for­ward to strength­en­ing our re­la­tion­ship in en­sur­ing ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of Ecosys­tem based Adap­ta­tion (EbA) ac­tiv­i­ties in the ‘gar­den is­land.” Chris Hei­der of Water­sheds Pro­fes­sion­als Net­work re­flects that: “This is an im­por­tant time for the peo­ple of Tave­uni. “There is a new and uni­fied resur­gence in ridge-to-reef man­age­ment that fuses both the long-stand­ing tra­di­tional val­ues and prac­tices with the modern re­al­i­ties of the 21st Cen­tury. “There is clear mo­men­tum and a broader un­der­stand­ing of how ecosys­tems func­tion, where strengths and weak­nesses ex­ist on the land­scape, and a will­ing­ness to work to­ward strength­en­ing com­mu­ni­ties.” The find­ings of the ESRAM study will guide the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the PEBACC project in Fiji. The PEBACC is a five-year project funded by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment. It is im­ple­mented by the Sec­re­tar­iat of the Pa­cific Re­gional En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme (SPREP) in part­ner­ship with the gov­ern­ments of Fiji, Solomon Is­lands and Van­u­atu. The Project fo­cuses on strength­en­ing and pro­tect­ing the role of nat­u­ral ecosys­tem ser­vices to en­hance re­silience to cli­mate change.

In Fiji the project sites are Tave­uni Is­land and the Macu­ata Province. Source: Sec­re­tar­iat of the Pa­cific Re­gional En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme

Photo: Sec­re­tar­iat of the Pa­cific Re­gional En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme

Par­tic­i­pants of the SPREP work­shop on ‘Nat­u­ral So­lu­tions to Cli­mate Change’.

Photo: Sec­re­tar­iat of the Pa­cific Re­gional En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme

Fam­i­lies rely on the ecosys­tems for their liveli­hoods. This is in So­mo­somo Vil­lage, Tave­uni.

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