Communities construct 3D map for Taveuni Island, Fiji

The people of Taveuni will be able to view for the first time their island on a tangible 3 dimensional model map after a 9-day community workshop that commences this week on the island.

The workshop supported by the Secretariat of the Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) through its Pacific Ecosystem based Adaptation Project (PEBACC) in partnership with the leaders and people of Taveuni employs the Participatory 3 Dimensional Modelling (P3DM) to document physical and cultural landscapes of the island.

Project Manager of SPREP's PEBACC Project, Mr. Herman Timmermans explains that "P3DM has proven itself to be a powerful tool for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation planning and is increasingly used in the Pacific for the identification and mapping of key terrestrial and marine natural resources to support management planning processes.

"For Taveuni, with the fragile island ecosystems constantly under threat from a range of growing pressures such as forests increasingly being converted for agricultural use, farming methods depleting soil fertility and unsustainable fishing and natural disasters, this exercise attempts to facilitate collaboration and integration between communities, community leaders, government, NGO's and the private sector to increase community ownership and empowerment in natural resource planning." Mr. Timmermans said.

The P3DM exercise this week on the island reflects an island-wide approach to planning and it aims to develop an effective decision making tool relating to not just the management of natural resources but additionally, development activities on Taveuni.

1 copy copy copy copy copy copy copy copy copy copyM'Liz Flynn, P3DM expert and SPREP consultant leading the P3DM exercise on Taveuni Island this week. Photo: SPREP

Traditional conservationist and Coordinator of Bouma National Heritage Park on Taveuni, Mr.Sipiriano Qeteqete is pleased that Taveuni can access such a tool and says the model will be influential for community action.

"Having a 3D model of the island will be a great resource for community awareness and discussions. To date, we have just been talking but nothing to show the communities. So to be able to show the entire island and the state of the natural resources to the communities will make a big difference towards action."

Eferemo Kubunavanua, Conservation Officer for the Bua province who has had prior exposure to the P3DM tool says the mapping tool will also facilitate the transfer of traditional environmental knowledge to the younger generations.

"The tool is useful for land boundary marking and additionally it is a great tool to expose the younger generations to information about natural resources and places on the island that they have been to or known before. For example, the various hunting areas in the mountains and sacred traditional grounds."

"The local communities are engaged in the model building of their island that they rely on for their livelihoods and cultural practices. It is a model by and for the people." Mr. Kubunavanua added.

The P3DM model of Taveuni will be constructed ahead of a planned mission by PEBACC's consultant team conducting an Ecosystem and Socio-economic Resilience Analysis and Mapping (ESRAM) baseline study on the island. An ESRAM study is a mapping and analysis of social economic resilience to climate change associated with goods and services provided by ecosystems. The findings of the ESRAM study will guide the implementation of the PEBACC project in Fiji.

The PEBACC Project is a five year project implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in partnership with the governments of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.

The Project focusses on strengthening and protecting the role of natural ecosystem services to enhance resilience to climate change. In Fiji the Project sites are Taveuni Island and Macuata Province.

For further information please contact Ms. Jilda Shem, PEBACC Communications Officer, jildas@sprep.org or +679 3311382.
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