Development with a Green Context
The plans identify the key natural resources like mangrove forests, rivers, marine resources and forests that provide various ecosystem services like food, medicine and income that we see and others we do not see like fresh air, clean water, stable coastal and river banks for the communities of Labasa and Wailevu districts in Labasa and Nailaga district in Ba.
As a key tool used in sustainable resource management, the plans are able to guide those making decisions about developments in these districts on the types of developments that can be allowed which does not severely harm existing natural resources.
Mangrove forests for example directly support as many as 3,000 lives in the district of Nailaga in Ba through food and income derived from the crabbing industry.
An outcome of the formulation of the district’s development plan is a decision by the people of the district to ban the harvesting of mangrove forests even for firewood purposes.
District representative to the Ba Provincial Council Meeting Jeremaia Tuwai said this means that any future development that will result in mangrove destruction will not be allowed.
Development plan construction is an activity of the AusAID Building Resilience to Climate Change programme, coordinated by WWF South Pacific.
Programme Coordinator Stephanie Robinson said a pleasing point to note about formulating development plans at the district level is the united approach to sustainable resource management that is adopted.
“Development is taking place and will continue to take place in the various provinces and in the districts,” she said.
“Although it is great that individual communities are taking the initiative to protect their natural resource - they cannot do so alone.
“If communities (with similar issues/concerns) are able to foresee developments in their area, they can also ensure that when it comes, consideration of their natural resources is also taken into account and development proceeds in a sustainable manner.
“Working together as a district and then as a province, makes this plan stronger than if communities were to go it alone.”
Climate change field officer Apolosa Robaigau ran consultation workshops with the three districts, at the end of which development plans, which are also linked to Vulnerability Assessments/Action Plans, were developed.
In this way, communities can identify activities they can do to rejuvenate or protect their natural resources.
For example, in Labasa district riverbank erosion, improper waste management, soil erosion and declining water quality were some issues of vulnerability identified.
Vunivau community, within this district has undertaken a reforestation program and the digging of proper waste disposal pits for every household in the village.
Previously, rubbish was disposed off carelessly, usually ending up in rivers and waterways.
Vunimoli, Vuo and Mataniwai villages within Labasa district also carried out a mangrove replanting activity to protect their coastline and riverbanks.
Pigpens have also been relocated inland, away from the usual spots on riverbanks and seaside, harvesting of riparian vegetation has been banned and burning to clear land has been frowned upon.