Species habitat loss due to land conversion by fire has been identified as a threat to biodiversity in Fiji by BirdLife International (Important Bird Areas in Fiji, 2006). Fire has been traditionally used as a land management tool, and despite conflicting views on its devastating impact on soil fertility, sustainable agriculture and biodiversity, it has not been adequately addressed. There is a wide misconception that using fire as a land management technique is beneficial to soil productivity (whereas it is, in fact, detrimental).
This projects seeks to better understand current agricultural and waste management systems within Nasoqo and Navai villages, and to use this data to develop a communications strategy and awareness toolkit to minimise the impact of intentional and indiscriminate fires on the biodiversity within and around one of Fiji’s Important Bird Areas/ Key Biodiversity Area: Greater Tomaniivi Area (IBA FJ 07).
BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL: YOUNG CONSERVATION LEADERSHIP PROGRAM
This project is funded by BirdLife International’s Young Conservation Leadership Programme (YCLP). The grant was secured by NFMV Project Support Officer, Melania Segaidina and NFMV Conservation Officer, Siteri Tikoca.
The YCLP is an “international capacity building programme supporting young conservationists, the majority of whom are working in their own countries, to undertake applied biodiversity projects in less developed countries”.
Household surveys and focus group discussions
Household surveys and focus group discussions were used to get a better understanding of how the communities of Navai and Nasoqo use fire.
The data indicated that the two communities hardly use fire to clear land for agriculture and waste management. They use traditional methods of land clearing that had been passed down from previous generations, and also use pesticides and weedicides. The communities have witnessed the negative impacts of the use of weedicides and pesticides on freshwater fish in their river systems.
Story book, fire and ladder game and custom playing cards
Based on the data collected, the project team and interns developed the following materials:
The project team is grateful to BirdLife International and the Young Conservation Leadership Program for the opportunity to run such a project, and to build team capacity to do so. The experiences gained have led the team members to efficiently participate in NatureFiji-MareqetiViti’s projects in other parts of Fiji, and the development of our 2020 – 2024 organisation strategy.
We would not have been able to visit the communities of Nasoqo and Navai without the blessings of the Yavusa o Nasoqo, the Naitasiri Provincial Office and the Itaukei Affairs Board.
For the photographs on the playing cards, we are grateful to Dr. Dick Watling for giving us permission to reproduce the images from his book: A Guide to the Birds of Fiji and Western Polynesia, and to Dr. Paddy Ryan for allowing us to use his photograph of the Viti Levu endemic, Fiji Masked Shining Parrot from his book: Fiji’s Natural Heritage.