Training in wetland survey techniques in Fiji
29 January - 2 February 2001
prepared by Aaron Jenkins, Wetlands International - Oceania
5 February 2001
A second training course in Fiji, sponsored by the Asia Pacific Wetland Managers Training Program, was completed between 29 January and 2 February 2001. This course was entitled "Inventory of freshwater and mangrove biota of Fiji: a field and lab-based course on systematic survey techniques and identification of fishes, invertebrates and aquatic plants". It was hosted by University of South Pacific, Institute of Applied Sciences, and jointly managed by Wetlands International - Oceania, the Fiji Department of Environment and USP. Aaron Jenkins was the course coordinator and leader and he was assisted by specialists from USP.
The course was attended by 16 participants, from five government agencies and five NGOs. It had a strong field and lab emphasis as this was identified as a training/skills need by participants of the first (introductory) course, to build on the theory taught in the first course. The 2001 course comprised: (1) one classroom day reviewing/learning Fijian freshwater/mangrove biodiversity and studying fieldwork techniques; (2) one field day in a freshwater system conducting systematic survey work; (3) one field day in a mangrove system conducting systematic survey work; (4) one laboratory day working on the taxonomy/identification of taxa collected; and (5) a classroom day dedicated to the Ramsar Convention and progressing Ramsar Site documentation for Fiji.
The course participants were asked to fill out a confidential course evaluation at the end of the course. All responded positively and stated that the course was highly worthwhile and enjoyable and that they learnt a great deal. Several subjects for future training courses were identified by the participants and an extensive list of reference materials was requested.
Following the first (December 1999) course, most of the participants and some others formed a "Ramsar Site Selection Committee" which has been actively meeting throughout the past year. The Wetland Managers Training Program has clearly facilitated greater cooperation within and among government agencies and NGOs in Fiji. This was explicitly stated by many of the participants and underpinned by an excellent draft wetland database that has been created for Fiji through the cooperation of the participants.
Overall the course contributed significantly in building the capacity of wetland managers to survey and monitor Fijian wetlands. Additionally, all principal members of the Ramsar Site Selection Committee attended the course and on the last day made their selection of two wetland sites to be nominated to the Ramsar Convention (as part of Fiji completing its accession) based on information gained from the course. The committee has set itself a deadline of mid-2001 to nominate the two sites and see Fiji accede to the Convention.
The final report and financial statement of this course will follow shortly. Several photographs are attached.