Since its inception, NatureFiji-MareqetiViti has consistently voiced concerns over the threat of indiscriminate burning to Fiji’s wildlife and their special places. The Greater Tomaniivi Area on Viti Levu is one such place, internationally recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA FJ07) with global importance for the conservation of bird species. NFMV was keen to address the fact that indiscriminate bush fires were a threat to Fiji’s wildlife in this special place.
In 2018, our Conservation Support Officer, Melania Segaidina, won an award from the Young Conservation Leadership Programme (YCLP) to address “Fire Control In and Around the Greater Tomaniivi IBA.” The YCLP provides funding to budding conservation leaders for building the capacity of others to successfully run conservation projects, focusing on developing their skills in conservation planning, program design and management, and community interaction.
The Fire Control project called for working with two communities – Navai Village and Nasoqo Village – to address the threat of indiscriminate burning to the Greater Tomaniivi IBA. Melania’s team ran workshops in the villages to gather residents’ perceptions of fire use in their communities. Then, based on this data, the team developed communication materials to highlight traditional methods that did not use fire for preparing agricultural land. The materials included a story/coloring book, which follows little Pita and his Taitai (grandfather) as they prepare their land without use of fire for a garden. The book includes a game that rewards players for good land use practices and demotes them for bad practices.
The team also developed a deck of playing cards featuring 16 birds known to inhabit the Greater Tomaniivi IBA. Each card includes a brief message in both English and the local dialect on the importance of protecting the biodiversity of our forests.
This project has been exemplary in recognizing that traditional, non-fire management systems exist and can be revived to help minimize our negative impacts on wildlife and their special places. Through such traditional practices, we humans can help sustain and live in harmony with wildlife.
To commemorate World Wildlife Day, the NFMV team distributed the special pack of playing cards to the villages of Nasoqo and Navai, with the Naitasiri Provincial Office.
Watch this space, as we will be highlighting details about each of the bird species featured in the card deck during the lead-up to 21 March, the International Day of Forests.