Conserving Biodiversity, Improving Livelihoods in Natewa Tunuloa and Nabukelevu Kadavu IBA
The Natewa Tunuloa IBA covers the largest tracts of the remaining old-growth rainforest on the Peninsula, covering an area of approximately 17, 600 ha to an altitude of 832m and supports seven out of the nine subspecies endemic on Vanua Levu forest. The forest is also identified in the Fiji Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan as a Site of National Significance and is mentioned in the National Regional Tourism Strategy as an area that has potential to provide regional community benefits and to diversify tourism products in Vanua Levu.
The island of Kadavu has the highest number of endemic birds per land area in the world and hosts two IBAs, including Mount Nabukelevu whose montane forest is of critical importance for five globally threatened bird species. BirdLife has initiated conservation activities at both IBAs, working with their local communities to identify problems, define potential solutions and develop appropriate management skills. This has included the establishment of two local conservation groups, known as Site Support Groups, comprising of representatives of landowning clans who actively promote the sustainable management and conservation of their natural resources.
This project is laying the foundations built in a completed Darwin-funded project, in which community-declared protected areas were established at the two IBAs, through a Memorandum of Understanding between the landowning units and BirdLife International. The project will work with the SSGs at the two IBAs, and will build on their enthusiasm and drive to protect their own forests. The resource-owning clans have contributed to their respective management plans and will implement and monitor the conservation efforts within their IBAs.
The project hopes to progress their PA status and to provide technical support to the communities for the implementation of their plans, including seeking and facilitating opportunities for sustainable, forest-based income generation, which is becoming increasing urgent due to the unmistakable real threat of logging and agricultural encroachment in the forest. This project will sustain the work and commitment made by communities and the SSG, and will work as a feasible model to other landowning units and villages to follow.
This project is supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. See related stories on http://www.cepf.net/resources/lessons_learned/Pages/BirdLife_Fiji.aspx and http://www.iccaregistry.org/