The Minister for Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy launched a documentary on Fiji’s Biodiversity Hotspots this morning to commemorate the International Day of Biodiversity 2021. The documentary was produced with the support and assistance of the Ministry of Communications.
Case studies in the documentary focuses on Marine Protected Areas, Terrestrial Protected Areas, Forest Reserves, Bat Sanctuaries, Mangrove and Coral Restoration sites, and sanctuaries for Fiji’s endemic crested iguana. The documentary also shows a strong application of Fiji’s ecological/environmental and the traditional knowledge of conservation across villages and communities.
Captured in the documentary is the Mali Island Marine Protected Area (MPA) which is part of the Great Sea Reef locally known as Cakaulevu or Qoliqoli Cokovata, Macuata. “It is the third largest reef system in the Southern Hemisphere and has rich marine biodiversity. The Ministry worked with the communities and multiple agencies and established this protected reef site as Ramsar site which was commissioned by our Prime Minister,” Minister Reddy said.
“The community leadership highlighted a concern that there were challenges in monitoring the newly commissioned site from poaching/over-fishing. The Ministry organised a surveillance assistance program and offered both structural and functional support by providing adequate training and a surveillance boat which was handed to the community by our Hon. Prime Minister last year.”
The Qaranivai Marine Protected Area, is another important hotspot area in Fiji. “The MPA has shown signs of replenishment- previous studies had indicated that the marine resources were declining. Through its community based MPA, the villagers are now able to protect their marine resource and have seen positive spillover effects of such protected areas with their qoliqoli. MPAs are strongly supported by the National Environment Council (NEC) chaired by the Ministry of Environment as an important conservation tool,” Minister Reddy said during the virtual launch.
Apart from the Marine Protected Areas, the Ridge to Reef Program (R2R) led by the Ministry of Environment saw the establishment of the Navakuru Terrestrial Protected Area. This program resulted in increased biodiversity outcomes and has restored degraded land. The project has also led to the improvement of the health of the Labasa and Qawa rivers through the rehabilitation efforts upstream.
“The Ministry of Environment will continue to support in every possible way, the Nakanacagi Bat Sanctuary (the first for Fiji). This sanctuary (a terrestrial protected area) secures a cave housing the world’s only known maternity roost of the endangered Fiji free-tailed bat. Waisali Forest Reserve is also one of Fiji’s most diverse rain forests, this 300-acre reserve is rich in bird species, and exquisite trees, flowers, and plants, including those used in traditional medicines. It hosts Fiji’s endangered ground frog species (platymantis vitianus), which was once thought to have become extinct,” Minister Reddy said.
The Hon. Minister reassured that the Ministry of Environment has supported and will continue to work with the National Trust of Fiji in rehabilitating the Monuriki Island Iguana Sanctuary.
“As part of the Ministry’s Mangrove Advancement Program, and the chain of nurseries being established across Fiji, the Ministry supports the Navuniivi Village in Rakiraki Mangrove restoration project. A total of 600 mangrove seedling were planted to help restore traditional fishing grounds. The coastal erosion causes the village to venture out into deeper waters to catch fish and the mangrove planting initiative comes with the hope that the mangroves will establish new fishing grounds while it helps stop the erosion of the coastal areas. The Ministry will be partnering with the community and establish the site as a Biodiversity Park,” Minister Reddy revealed.
Minister Reddy also announced that the Ministry of Environment has completed the formulation of the 6th National Report (6NR). The report will be formally launched in the coming weeks after being tabled in Cabinet.
Fiji as party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), is required under Article 26 to submit national reports on the progress made with regards to the implementation of the provisions Convention and their effectiveness in meeting the objectives of the convention. The National Report takes stock of all achievements and actions in implementing the international and national biodiversity targets.