Nailaga Mangrove Ban
District representative Jeremaia Tuwai said the decision was reached at the districts 2ndquarterly meeting and will complement the aims of a development plan that has been drawn up with the assistance of WWF South Pacific.
Tuwai said it is a decision supported by all clan leaders.
He said the ecological importance of mangrove forests has dawned on the people after various awareness exercises on climate change adaptation with a specific focus on mangrove protection and coastal resilience, sustainable land management and river care.
A focus point of the 20 year district development plan is the reforestation of mangrove areas, through the replanting of mangroves along riverbanks.
A district consultation exercise carried out before the plan was drawn up identified harvesting for various purposes like firewood and house-building, as the biggest threat to the survival of mangrove forests.
“So we are advocating with all villages in the district, Nawaqarua, Natutu, Votua, Koroqaqa and Nailaga about the need to harvest only dead mangroves for firewood,” Tuwai said.
The Tikina has also appealed to the Department of Environment and Department of Land and Water Resources for a resolution to the deaths of acreages of mangrove forests during dredging exercises at the Ba River.
“We support dredging wholeheartedly and just want to see that our mangroves are not harmed in the process,” he said.
Tuiwai said mangroves are an important source of livelihood for about 2000 people in the district who directly rely on it for food and a source of income through the crabbing industry.
“Mangroves also have an additional medicinal value and important of course is the climate resilience aspect that we have learnt about through the awareness exercises and the protection it affords our coastlines from heavy wave action,” he said.
Weekly visits to villages raising awareness about the protection of mangroves are also being carried out.
“We need the support of the people of Nailaga for the ban to work and for that to happen we hope to raise understanding about the important role of mangrove forests so that our people readily support the stance we are taking,” he said.