Saving Globally Threatened Birds at Fiji’s Mount Nabukelevu IBA through a Community-based Reforestation and Sustainable Land Management Approach

Nabukelevu SSG Chairman, Jovesa Drau holds the Kadavu Golden Whistler (Kadavu endemic), during an IBA Monitoring exercise photo by BirdLife Pacific

Donor: BirdLife International Community Conservation Fund

Project Impact: The overall objective of the project is to conserve the endangered forests and birds of Mount Nabukelevu Important Bird Area, Kadavu, Fiji by developing a model of forest restoration activities and improved agricultural practices. Specifically, this will establish a reforestation program in the four landowning villages in Nabukelevu and ensure the community members have the skills to ensure the long-term sustainability of the conservation programme.

Overview:  BirdLife has been identifying priority sites of nature conservation importance called Important Bird Area using standardized scientific criteria based on the distribution of bird species. These sites are not fenced-off areas, but places where BirdLife and NatureFiji-MareqetiViti (BirdLife in Fiji) work with local communities to enable them to live in harmony with nature.

BirdLife and NatureFiji-MareqetiViti helps the local communities to identify problems, define potential solutions and develop appropriate skills. This leads to the establishment of local conservation groups comprising representatives of land-owning mataqalis (family clans) who wish to sustainably manage and conserve their natural resources.

Mount Nabukelevu is located on the south-western side of Kadavu, the fourth largest island in Fiji. It is  also known as Mount Washington and is the highest mountain on Kadavu and contains the largest area of the remaining montane forest. The mount is an Important Bird Area; supporting the four species of endemic birds on Kadavu, as well as nesting colonies of threatened seabirds, with the ground nesting Wedge-tailed shearwaters and Collared Petrels believed to be still seeking refuge on the mountain.

The Nabukelevu Conservation Committee was established in 2007 and the vision of this local conservation group is to conserve their natural surroundings and forests for the protection of their globally threatened bird species.  The group is working with BirdLife and NatureFiji-MareqetiViti to develop an integrated approach to resource management, specifically addressing the key drivers of forest degradation, including unsustainable agriculture.

This project is helping to deliver this vision by (i) ensuring the replication of an integrated package of forest conservation, sustainable agriculture and land management model that will deliver multiple benefits to communities including providing alternative livelihoods for local people as well as the conservation of a globally important site of biodiversity, and : (ii) developing the skills of local community members to run their own reforestation programs will be vital to ensure the long-term sustainability of the work in Nabukelevu and the work of the Nabukelevu Conservation Committee.