Bindiya Rashni became the Ecosystems Program Conservation Officer at NatureFiji-MareqetiViti (NFMV) in March 2018. She is a passionate freshwater macroinvertebrate scientist with a decade of experience in the bioassessment of tropical freshwater systems. She has carried out extensive work on the flora (hydrophytes, periphyton and phytoplankton) and fauna (macroinvertebrate and zooplankton) diversity in the wetlands of Fiji and the Solomon Islands. To date, she has identified over a million individuals.
Bindiya has expanded her invertebrate skills to include the identification of estuarine/brackish water infauna, and recently led NFMV’s “Mangrove Madness Walk” to raise awareness and promote education about mangrove ecosystem biodiversity and ecological functioning. She is exploring the headwaters to estuarine ecology with the aims of empowering locals in stewardship, helping them recognize the importance of wetlands as the “Kidneys of Earth,” and encouraging them to conserve and manage wetlands sustainably in order to help maintain their ecological stability for provision of ecosystem services.
Prior to joining NFMV’s staff, Bindiya volunteered as a lead scientist for the organisation’s “Learn from a Scientist” series and BioBlitz program to raise awareness of Fiji’s freshwater invertebrate diversity. She developed an innovative and simple “Traffic Light Bioindicator” (TLB) field guide which is now being used for a Community Based Riverine Monitoring (CBRM) project in Drawa, Vanua Levu. But she has also used the TLB and a local invertebrate spotting game (the “Meandering Mates Hunt”), both of which are age-, education- and cost-friendly, to make science more accessible to the general public. In 2014, in collaboration with Live & Learn RiverCare project, she contributed to the development of a RiverCare Toolkit for Fiji and established a river monitoring plan per village for the Drawa block communities (Vanua Levu).
Bindiya is currently pursuing her doctoral studies through Massey University in New Zealand to develop the Odonata Index of Fijian Wetland Integrity, an Index of Biotic Integrity for freshwater wetlands. This will be Fiji’s first nationally-owned freshwater wetland assessment tool. It will include the investigation of species composition of aquatic (naiad) and terrestrial adult stages of the endemic genus of damselflies, Nesobasis, across spatial, ecological and anthropic gradients in major and maritime islands of Fiji. Bindiya envisions using this tool to launch a Fiji Aquatics Monitoring Program through NFMV, thereby conducting a national-level rapid assessment of freshwater wetland to produce a wetland status report for Fiji in order to push for wetlands protection legislation.
Bindiya earned a Master’s of Science Degree in Freshwater Ecology in 2014 and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Marine Science in 2009, both at the University of the South Pacific.