SUNBIZ

Project Pleases Serua Landowners

  Rivers Fiji has helped develop the Upper Navua Conserva­tion Area and created a fu­ture for eco-tourism in Fiji. In partnership with Mareqeti Viti (Nature Fiji), the company had cre­ated
29 Jan 2018 13:48
Project Pleases Serua Landowners
White water rafting at the Upper Navua Conservation Area. Photo: Rivers Fiji.

 

Rivers Fiji has helped develop the Upper Navua Conserva­tion Area and created a fu­ture for eco-tourism in Fiji.

In partnership with Mareqeti Viti (Nature Fiji), the company had cre­ated a unique business-for-conser­vation paradigm and had laid the groundwork necessary to help Fiji establish their first Ramsar site.

Upper Navua Conservation Area became Fiji’s first officially desig­nated Ramsar Site and Fiji became the 152nd party to the Convention on April 11, 2006.

The company had convinced the nine indigenous land-owning clans (mataqali) from the two villages of Nabukelevu and Wainadiro in Se­rua, that the conservation efforts and rafting operation they were proposing in place of the logging and gravel extraction were reason­able.

They also had to propose their scheme to the then Native Land Trust Board, now iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB).

White water rafting at the Upper Navua Conservation Area. Photo: Rivers Fiji.

White water rafting at the Upper Navua Conservation Area. Photo: Rivers Fiji.

The company successfully negoti­ated with the government and es­tablished the Upper Navua Conser­vation Area (UNCA) in 2000.

This unique public-private part­nership protects the pristine Upper Navua River Canyon, a 16 kilome­tre conservation corridor, from fu­ture logging or gravel extraction.

Landowners did not regrett their decisions and today, Rivers Fiji compensates the TLTB and land­owners through employment op­portunities, lease payments, and user fees, leading ultimately to full protection of the area.

Landowners Trip

Landowners of Cawanisa clan, staff of River Fiji and Native Fiji with Fiji Sun journalist Lusiana Tuimaisala (Front far right). Photo: Rivers Fiji.

Landowners of Cawanisa clan, staff of River Fiji and Native Fiji with Fiji Sun journalist Lusiana Tuimaisala (Front far right). Photo: Rivers Fiji.

Last Saturday a white-water raft­ing trip was arranged for the land­owners to the site.

Rivers Fiji operation manager, Basilio Cakaunivalu said they took the landowners up the river to see the beauty of the protected site that they have conserved since 2000.

“Since we started, we have planned to protect the river corridor which is 200 meters on each side.”

“Rivers Fiji are the only white-water rafting company operating in Fiji,” he said.

A landowner, 50-year-old Dilisi Le­wanivaturu, of the Cawanisa clan said they were happy that their resources were being looked after well.

Ms Lewanivaturu said: “There was a lot of logging going on in our area, and we thank Rivers Fiji for their idea of protecting our rivers corridor.”

“We have a beautiful place and we don’t want it to be destroyed.

“We should all protect nature be­cause it’s our home and we should stop destroying it,” Ms Lewanivat­uru added.

Nabukelevu village where the white water rafting started. Photo: Rivers Fiji.

Nabukelevu village where the white water rafting started. Photo: Rivers Fiji.

 

Nature Fiji/Mareqeti Viti

Nature Fiji director, Nunia Moko said one of the reasons they worked with Rivers Fiji was because they believed the fact that the UNCA was a unique place that needed to be conserved.

She said they believed the future conservation of the area lays in the hands of the landowners.

“The conservation awareness programme had taught us to communicate with the community,” Ms Moko said.

“We also realised that it wasn’t only about protecting the area but protecting the heritage site and ensuring there was a refuge that Fiji’s wild life could come to when their habitat was being threatened.

“It is very important to have a consistent awareness with the communities, and we are thankful to Rivers Fiji for having the foresight.

“Our joint vision to work with the landowners is the best way forward.”

Ms Moko added: “Our role is to facilitate in passing on this knowledge to the community for the long run.”DSCN0304

 

About Ramsar Convention

The Ramsar Convention is “the first of the modern global intergovernmental treaties on conservation and wise use of natural resources.”

The UNCA is now part of more than 1280 wetlands around the world designated as areas of international importance that make up nearly 2 million square kilometers of surface area, an area larger than France, Germany and Switzerland combined.

The Ramsar designated Upper Navua Conservation Area hosts important flora and fauna critical to the health of this unusual freshwater resource as well as the greater local and global human communities.

Since its inception the UNCA has yielded two newly discovered endemic species of freshwater fish, sightings of the globally endangered Pink-billed Parrot Finch, and a captured banded iguana also now considered rare in Fiji’s forests.

In addition to the unique animal life found, a surprisingly healthy population of metroxylon vitiense, or sago palm, was noted.

The sago palm has been significantly reduced or eliminated on many of Fiji’s freshwater river drainages.

 

My Experience to the UCNA

Fiji Sun journalist Lusiana Tuimaisala was also part of the trip. Photo: Rivers Fiji.

Fiji Sun journalist Lusiana Tuimaisala was also part of the trip. Photo: Rivers Fiji.

As a journalist my trip to this amazing river on Saturday was perhaps one of the most unique journeys in all of Fiji, if not the South Pacific and the World.

This excursion took me through to some of the country’s most formidable and phenomenally beautiful terrain in the relative comfort of inflatable rafts.

It was a special trip for me not because of one unparalleled attribute upon which the success of the trip was based, but many special and scenically significant places; each individually worthy of special recognition.

There was not one waterfall but many (some landowners say 70), not one short stretch of deep, narrow canyon, but kilometres.

I was told by the guide that it was a place where black volcanic walls are at points barely five metres apart and over 40 metres high and fringed by emerald rainforest.

This is a place where man has been merely an intermittent visitor at best, where some of the wildest and most beautiful Fiji can still be found.

Feedback:  lusiana.tuimaisala@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



Five Square diwali dhamaka 2021


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Tower Insurance
FNPF
Covid 19 - SPC
Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper