Fiji: Update on Ramsar Site nominations and development of a Pacific Mangrove Declaration

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Visiting the Fiji Islands in March, Vainuupo Jungblut, Ramsar Officer for Oceania, had the opportunity to discuss the development of the Pacific Mangrove Declaration/Charter and to participate in the meeting of the Fiji National Wetland Steering Committee (NWSC) to receive updates on Fiji’s Ramsar Site nominations.

With IUCN Oceania staff he discussed joint activities under the Pacific Mangrove Initiative (PMI), and in particular the development of the Pacific Mangrove Charter/Declaration to attract high level support for the protection and wise use of mangroves in the Pacific Islands. As a result of the discussions, IUCN Oceania and the Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) are developing a draft Charter, and are exploring opportunities for securing high level endorsement. These will include meetings and high level fora, for example the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that will be held in Samoa in September 2014.

During the meeting of the Fiji National Wetland Steering Committee (NWSC), representatives of the Department of the Environment, IUCN Oceania, Nature Fiji, Wildlife Conservation Society - Fiji Programme and the University of the South Pacific discussed the status of Ramsar Site nominations.

Nasoata mangrove island
During previous discussions, it was proposed to list under the Ramsar Convention a large area, including the Nasoata mangrove island, surrounding mud flats, reef flats and adjacent areas. Recognizing that community consultation is a long process, participants agreed to propose for designation first the island and the mud flats, and to expand the boundaries to the reef flats and adjacent areas in the future once all affected parties in the Rewa river delta have been consulted and are in agreement.

Nasoata mangrove island. Copyright: Vainuupo Jungblut

In addition, IUCN Oceania reported on the progress of the community consultations they are leading to develop a co-management plan for the site. A Ramsar Information Sheet (RIS) and a map of the site are being finalized by the University of the South Pacific and IUCN Oceania.

Lake Tagimoucia
Participants also discussed the Ramsar nomination of Lake Tagimoucia, Fiji’s largest freshwater lake, located on the island of Taveuni. Nature Fiji is drafting an RIS and IUCN Oceania is developing a map of the lake. The Environment Department has put together a template for a management plan incorporating elements from Ramsar guidance on Site management. A wetlands awareness and consultation programme with landowners is currently being undertaken.

Great Sea Reef
WWF Fiji presented the progress on the Ramsar nomination of the Great Sea Reef (GSR). They provided details on the development of the draft RIS and of the national management strategy. The process includes engaging with four provinces (Macuata, Bua, Ba and Ra) and is expected to take up to 15 months to complete.

Great Sea Reef. Copyright: WWF South Pacific/Juergen Freund

Report by Vainuupo Jungblut, Ramsar Officer for Oceania

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