Sharing experiences on ecosystem based management: CEM visits Oceania

07 March 2011 | News story

 Key players and experts from the environment and sustainable development community in Fiji and abroad gathered in Nadi, Fiji from 2 – 4 March to discuss how to integrate ecosystem based management principles into the Nadi River Basin and Mangrove Management Plans.

 The outputs of the workshop will contribute to the work of the Nadi Basin Catchment Committee (NBCC) to develop a strategy to reduce flood risks for the Nadi area which has been devastated by frequent flooding events in the past years with the worst ever flooding recorded in 2009.

Our discussions focussed on how effectively the ecosystem based approach can be used for the Nadi River Basin, what has worked in other parts of Fiji and the world and what hasn’t, and how we can collectively build on what is already being done,” says IUCN Oceania Regional Office Water and Wetlands Programme Coordinator, Dr. Milika Sobey.

10 Experts from IUCN’s Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) Steering Committee were part of the discussions and relayed their experiences in the application of ecosystem based management in other field projects around the world with the NBCC members and other invited participants. This was the first visit for the CEM Steering Committee to the Oceania region and every opportunity was provided for them to also learn of the activities currently being undertaken in the Nadi Basin as part of IUCN’s Water and Nature Initiative (WANI). An interactive field trip also provided an opportunity for the CEM Steering Committee members to explore the Nadi catchment area, learn of the tools currently being utilized for flood risk management for the area, and to witness the impacts of tourism on its coastal ecosystems.

Another issue that was discussed extensively at the workshop is land tenure ship within Fiji. Fiji has a unique land tenure system whereby land is divided into three major categories: native, freehold and state land whereby 88% is native land. The challenge for integrated water resource management lies in native owned land. The Native Land Trust Board in Fiji states that for any development to be undertaken on native land, a developer must ensure that 60% of the “tokatoka” or household members that own the land are in approval.

“Unfortunately in the end, less than 60% tokatoka members approve and many developments are cut short – all because of lack of knowledge by some members,” says Native Land Trust Board (NLTB) Regional Manager Southwest, Mr. Mesake Ledua.

This is an issue the NBCC is currently trying to improve by taking every effort to keep all land owning “mataqali’s” or clans informed of future development plans within the Nadi basin area.

The three day workshop was organised by the Land and Water Resource Management Division (LAWRM) of Fiji’s department of Agriculture and IUCN Oceania Regional Office. The current project being undertaken in Nadi is the GEF funded Integrated Water Resources Management Project which will be implemented over the next three years using the WANI principles.

For more information, please contact milika.sobey@iucn.org