NFMV starts its first national campaign to save the population of Critically Endangered Crested Iguanas on Macuata Island.
Macuata, a 40 ha freehold island off the north coast of Viti Levu, is home to a population of about 80 Critically Endangered Crested Iguanas Brachylophus vitiensis which is regarded as one of only two populations in the world which are potentially secure. Macuata island is up for sale by its owners who live in the United States.
NFMV is campaigning for a ‘Conservation Sale’ for Macuata, one which would see a sale to the National Trust for Fiji, or an international NGO or individual/organisation who would covenant the island for its conservation value rather than any other development purpose.
We do not believe that this is a cheap option, rather we are confident that the right conservation purchaser would pay a good price for the island and this would be a win-win for all interested parties.
We see no option other than a conservation purchase of the island because of Fiji’s recently gazetted legislation, the Environmental Management Act (2005) which came into force on January 1st 2009.
This act has strict Environmental Impact Assessment provisions in respect of “a proposal that could jeopardize the continued existence of any protected, rare, threatened or endangered species or its critical habitat or nesting ground “ (Schedule 2 1(l)).
These provisions apply to any development on the island, not just for a new owner. However, these provisions are only as good as they are implemented by the Department of the Environment and other government agencies with regulatory responsibilities.
NFMV is currently in contact with the owners and offering its help in arranging a Conservation Sale. It has also canvassed the regulatory authorities to assist in ensuring a conservation sale or protection for the iguanas, in line with National Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plan.
NFMV needs the help of its members and interested readers to help find an individual or organisation who could assist in the ‘conservation purchase’ of Macuata Island. Please contact [email protected]