Global to local ecosystem approaches and knowledge shared in Fiji

01 April 2011 | News story

Scientists and experts recently gathered in Nadi, Fiji to discuss the integration of ecosystem based management principles and know-how into the Nadi River Basin project.

The outputs of this workshop will contribute to the work of the Nadi Basin Catchment Committee (NBCC) in developing a strategy to reduce flood risks for the Nadi area. Nadi Town has in recent years been devastated by frequent flooding events, with flood records and damage 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,” said IUCN Oceania Regional Water Coordinator, Dr. Milika Sobey.

Experts from IUCN’s Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) relayed their global experiences in the application of ecosystem based management with the local NBCC members for the Nadi project.

This was the first visit for the CEM Steering Committee members to the Oceania region. They learned of the activities currently taking place in the Nadi Basin as part of IUCN’s Water and Nature Initiative (WANI). An interactive field trip provided an opportunity for the CEM members to explore the Nadi catchment area, learn of the tools currently being implemented for flood risk management, and witness the impacts of tourism development on its coastal ecosystems.

In addition to ecosystem based adaptation, the issue of land tenure in Fiji was discussed. Fiji has a unique land tenure system whereby land is divided into 3 categories: native, freehold and state land, of which 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, less than 60% of the tokatoka members approve and many developments are cut short – often due to lack of knowledge by some members,” said Native Land Trust Board (NLTB) Regional Manager Southwest, Mr. Mesake Ledua.

This is an issue the NBCC is currently working on 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) 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 based on the WANI principles.

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