Fiji Terrestrial Protected Areas Legal Review process: Community consultation and engagement

In 2007, the Government of the Republic of Fiji as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) endorsed the review and reform of laws, policies and institutional arrangements related to terrestrial protected area networks. 

Photo: IUCN Oceania

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2016 was commissioned by the Fiji Protected Areas Committee and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to review all existing policies, legislations and institutional structure and arrangement governing forest management.

In order to carry out the Fiji Terrestrial Protected Areas Legal Review process, a team from the IUCN Oceania Regional Office conducted community consultations in May this year at three targeted terrestrial protected areas communities who are engaged at the different level of management, which were Taveuni, Delaikoro, Vanua Levu and Mount Tomanivi, Viti Levu. The sites were chosen in consultation with Fiji’s Protected Areas Committee and the FAO project team.

The objective of the consultation was to raise awareness to target communities and outline the importance of terrestrial conservation work in Fiji.

Etika Qica, IUCN Oceania’s Regional Project Officer highlighted that “Fijian communities have very little understanding of the legal and policy environment related to their resources, so the need to have community consultations was very important.”

According to Etika Qica the consultations, which were well attended by the targeted communities was fruitful and engaging as it helped the team identify community terrestrial management issues as well as specific issues related to legal and policies. He added that the team would identify key actions to address the threats and issues and provide recommendations to existing policies and management practices and enabling mechanisms.

Ratu Meli Delasau, the Village Headman of Rewasua village in Naitasiri welcomed the IUCN Oceania team’s visit to the village and acknowledged the work that was being carried out.  Ratu Meli said that “Our future is dependent on our wisdom and commitment to protecting our resources and the role of the villagers, the new generation and the community leaders are crucial to see our future generations are secured.”

The consultations will enable the establishment of protected areas and management of terrestrial ecosystem in Fiji as well as a recommendation for a Framework for Fiji Protected Areas Legal and Effective Management of Terrestrial Ecosystem.

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