Home to more than 850,000 people, Fiji is one of the most populated islands in the South Pacific.
Its forests, mountains and coral reefs, spread across 300 islands, contain a wealth of biodiversity.
But as the effects of climate change intensify, Fiji’s natural resources are at risk. Swift action is needed to protect them so they can support the island’s rapidly growing population.
People need nature as it underpins our culture, food, economy, and wellbeing. Due to climate change, biodiversity loss, overfishing, and now the pandemic, there is more significant pressure on nature than ever before. Fiji needs to protect our natural ecosystems to build resilient and self-reliant communities and economies. Conservation International are working with communities to reduce human impact, develop sustainable livelihoods, and protect the environment. Together with our partners, we have created conservation legacies in the Sovi Basin and the Greater Delaikoro Protected Area. We now seek to significantly advance the formal network of marine and terrestrial protected areas and improve the sustainable management of Fiji’s most crucial forest and freshwater ecosystems. We’re also proudly working with traditional leaders in the Lau Seascape to build informed decision-making, expand protection and improve the management of this significant marine ecosystem. Learn more at conservation.org/fiji
Why is Fiji important?
Fiji’s food security is threatened by climate change impacts such as increasingly intense weather events. In the aftermath of Cyclone Winston in 2016, CI has been working with smallholder farmers and coastal fishers in Ra Province to promote sustainable practices, grow rural economies, and improve yield and fish catch.
CI is working to secure Fiji’s crucial watersheds, beginning with the establishment of the Sovi Basin Protected Area in 2008. As Fiji’s largest terrestrial protected area, it helps conserve some of the last standing cloud forest in the country and provides fresh water to more than 330,000 people. The Sovi Basin is secured by a US$ 3.9 million endowment trust fund with support from FIJI Water and the Global Conservation Fund.
Jobs and prosperity
Fiji has one of the most developed economies in the Pacific Islands region. The economy relies on natural resources such as timber, fish, gold, copper and hydropower; a growing tourism industry; and payments from Fijians working abroad. The tourism and agriculture sectors are among the largest employers and are heavily reliant on a healthy and productive natural environment.
Biodiversity and forests
Fiji is home to the third-largest number of threatened endemic species and the largest remaining intact, unprotected forests in the entire Polynesia-Micronesia biodiversity hotspot (which contains about 4,500 islands). Nearly 50 percent of Fiji’s forests are intact, and 87 percent of Fiji’s land is owned by indigenous Fijians.
What are the issues?
Ridge to reef to ocean
CI collaborates with communities to improve natural resource management and livelihoods, from the mountains to the coasts to the sea, an approach we call “ridge to reef to ocean.” As part of this work, we provide technical support to policy makers on forest and fishery conservation; work with communities to improve livelihoods; and promote the connectivity of ecosystems with no net loss of biodiversity or ecosystem services.
Management of the Lau Seascape
The Lau Seascape is the next frontier for marine exploration and management. In close partnership with the Fiji Locally Mananged Marine Area Network (FLMMA), CI aims to implement a ridge to reef to ocean approach to conservation that takes, economic, environmental and societal factors into account. Through research and scientific collaboration, CI is gathering data to understand the biodiversity, and natural resources of the Lau Islands. CI aims to foster the local stewardship of the area and its resources by supporting effective co-management between communities and the government.
Read about the CI-led Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) conducted in the Lau Seascape.
Sovi Basin Protected Area
In Fiji, 87 percent of land is owned by indigenous Fijians and administered by the iTaukei Lands Trust Board (TLTB). With support from the Fiji Water Foundation and Global Conservation Fund, CI Fiji secured a 99-year lease with the indigenous Fijians and the TLTB to protect the 16,340-hectare (40,377-acre) Sovi Basin. The Sovi Basin Endowment Trust Fund enables sustainable management of the basin, a milestone for financing large-scale land conservation in the Pacific. Capitalized in 2013, the trust fund has been making payments to communities to lease the land, to the National Trust of Fiji to manage the fund, and to TLTB to manage the lease so that all stakeholders benefit.
Creating new protected areas in Tomainiivi and Delaikoro
Since 2014, CI has been an active partner to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization on engaging communities and landowners in conservation, and the establishment of a protected area in the Greater Tomaniivi. Once established, the Greater Tomaniivi Conservation Area will span approximately 6,200 hectares (15,300 acres). Tomaniivi is important to CI Fiji’s long-term vision of a “conservation corridor” connecting key biodiversity areas across the country. CI is also expanding our work from Viti Levu to Vanua Levu by working with communities in the Greater Delaikoro area to protect approximately 16,000 hectares (40,000 acres) around Mount Delaikoro and Soro Levu.
Nakauvadra community-based reforestation project
CI has been working in Ra Province since 2009 on the Nakauvadra Community-Based Reforestation Project. The land in Nakauvadra is owned by communities residing in the adjacent Yaqara Valley. CI has engaged 28 communities to replant trees in 1,135 hectares (2,800 acres) of important habitat, establishing six community-run tree nurseries to do so. CI also developed 16 community model farms to improve food security and boost household income.
Coastal fish aggregating devices
It is estimated that under current trends, 75 percent of Pacific coastal fisheries will be unable to meet local food needs by 2030, and by 2035, Pacific Islanders will be dependent on tuna for a quarter of their food security needs.
With funding from the Asian Development Bank, CI is installing nearshore-anchored fish aggregating devices (FADs) beyond the reefs in Ra Province to give the communities greater access to tuna. This effort aims to improve local food security and livelihoods, reduce fishing pressure on vital reef fisheries and increase community resilience to tropical cyclones and climate change. CI is also training communities in safe FAD fishing and sustainable fishing practices.