Institute of Applied Science

IAS




Projects

Lab Projects

Lab Projects 2009 - 2013

  • Product development - “Taki Mai”:  For more than a decade the Food Unit of IAS has been working with potential partners to develop commercial products based on the relaxing properties of chemicals found in kava.  Obstacles have been finding a low-cost method to obtain these kava lactones and countering European claims that some extraction methods gave unsafe products.  IAS staff solved the former problem and an Australian scientist has shown this product to be safe and effective.  Working with the team that marketed Fiji Water in the United States a relaxation drink called “Taki Mai” has been developed to be launched in early 2013.
  • Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Analysis, funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF) - IAS is also a United Nations regional center of excellence for the analysis of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).  A regional United National Environment Program project funded by the Global Environment Facility to determine baseline levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in human milk and the atmosphere in six Pacific countries.  An inception meeting was held in Suva and training workshops in each of the countries involved.  POPs are harmful chemicals that are airborne, persist in the environment and accumulate in fatty tissues.  A global (Stockholm) Convention regulates the production of these chemicals.  In 2011 IAS completed a three-year project to determine baseline levels of POPs in humans (via breast milk) and the environment (passive sampling of air).  In general POPs concentration are low in the Pacific relative to other countries except for DDT, which has been widely used in the region for mosquito control.  
  • A study to assess factors that affect the cyanide content in cassava during growth and processing conducted for the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).  New Zealand and Australia had proposed stringent regulations on the trade in cassava and cassava products that were to be scrutinized by the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius.  
  • United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) project on food analysis in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga where IAS assists a number of laboratories in providing advice on analysis and quality assurance.  Vitamin A activity of traditional foods from Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands have been analyzed to encourage consumption of healthier cultivars
  • Through collaboration with SOPAC and WHO, IAS assisted several regional countries to improve their water quality laboratories.  Visits were made to assist the microbiology work and proficiency samples were also sent to the laboratories.
  •  Low-technology solar fruit drying
  • A coconut oil marketing feasibility study
  •  A shelf-life study on a kava/noni fruit drink and a microbiological risk assessment study on tuna.



Herbarium Projects

South Pacific Regional Herbarium and Biodiversity Centre Projects

2017

2017

Sovi Basin Plot Monitoring

The National Trust of Fiji organized a revisit to the Sovi Basin in February to capture monitoring data in the plots that were not assessed in 2015. This also allowed the opportunity for further plant, insect and bryophyte collection.

External links:

http://www.conservation.org/projects/Pages/sustainable-development-for-fiji-people-sovi-basin.aspx

https://www.cbd.int/financial/trustfunds/Fiji-sovifund.pdf

https://www.cbd.int/doc/meetings/pa/wspapac-01/other/wspapac-01-sbtf-en.pdf

https://issuu.com/nationalheritagefiji/docs/sovi_newsletter_volume_1_feb__2015

 

2016

2016

Samoa Flora Project

The National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai, organized a flora expedition on Upolu and Savai’I on Samoa. Our local bryophyte specialist, was the recipient of their fellowship award to join the six-week expedition, which provided the opportunity to collect bryophytes from various habitats and localities on the two main islands of Samoa.

2015

2015

Sovi Basin Plot Monitoring:


Through the support of FAO, reassessment of the long-term monitoring plots of the Sovi Basin Protected Area was conducted by team members from the herbarium unit and the National Trust of Fiji. It was also an opportunity for further specimen collection and report on the current state of the biological diversity within the protected area.


External links:


http://www.conservation.org/projects/Pages/sustainable-development-for-fiji-people-sovi-basin.aspx

https://www.cbd.int/financial/trustfunds/Fiji-sovifund.pdf

https://issuu.com/nationalheritagefiji/docs/sovi_newsletter_volume_1_feb__2015

https://www.cbd.int/doc/meetings/pa/wspapac-01/other/wspapac-01-sbtf-en.pdf

 

Expedition to the Solomon Islands


The South Pacific Regional Herbarium coordinated a historic, biological expedition, funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and the USP Research Office, to the interior of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. The purpose of the expedition was to investigate the diverse flora and fauna of this biological hotspot.
More here
https://www.usp.ac.fj/index.php?id=6380&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=2265&cHash=87612a573c12192f7cbfc0ef5b24e9b2

and here https://www.usp.ac.fj/index.php?id=6380&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=2817&cHash=b8da1ddb6aeb8f759373035b8d89f90d

External links:

http://www.usp.ac.fj/news/story.php?id=1955#.WXApDYSGOxg

https://www.iucn.org/content/usp-leads-expedition-guadalcanal-solomon-islands

http://blog.tepapa.govt.nz/2015/10/23/expedition-to-the-solomon-islands/

https://research.jcu.edu.au/tropwater/news-and-events/solomon-island-rapid-biodiversity-survey-a-success

2014

2014

REDD+ Emalu Grassland Survey


A rapid biodiversity assessment and archaeological survey was conducted on the Emalu grassland, a REDD+ pilot study site, in the Noikoro District of the Navosa Province on Viti Levu.


External links:


http://fiji-reddplus.org/content/surveys-carried-out-navosa-grasslands-preparation-land-use-planning

2013

2013

REDD+ Emalu Forest Survey

A rapid biodiversity assessment and archaeological survey was done on a Fiji REDD+ Pilot Site - the Emalu forest area on Viti Levu. This survey was the second phase to the assessment that was done in 2012.

External links:

http://fiji-reddplus.org/mataqali-emalu-redd-pilot-site

http://www.tltb.com.fj/pilot-site-for-redd-in-draubuta/

 

Delaikoro Biodiversity Rapid Assessment, Socioeconomic Study and Archaeological Survey

The Global Environment Facility, through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, funded this project to assess the biological diversity and conduct the socio-economic and archaeological survey of the Delaikoro mountain ecosystem on Vanua Levu, a proposed protected area.

External links:

http://www.fao.org/asiapacific/news/detail-events/en/c/281205/

https://youtu.be/9sY8FUjVM5s

 

REDD+ Vunivia Forest Survey

A rapid biodiversity assessment, archaeological survey and socio-political study of a Fiji REDD+ pilot site was conducted in Vunivia on Vanua Levu.

External links:

http://fiji-reddplus.org/vunia-redd-pilot-site

http://theredddesk.org/countries/initiatives/vunivia-redd-pilot-project

 

New Range Extensions

Vegetation surveys, headed by herbarium curator Marika Tuiwawa and consultant Senilolia Tuiwawa, in Emalu, in the province of Nadroga-Navosa, revealed the presence of some botanically important plant species.  These important range extension discoveries were made for two endemic species on the IUCN Red List; Acmopyle sahniana and Degeneria vitiensis; as well as two other rare endemic palms whose Red List status is currently under review (Cyphosperma naboutinense and Metroxylon vitiensis).  A new range extension to an altitude of 700m was also recorded for the orchid Nervilia cf. aragoana, which has previously only been recorded from altitudes below 400m.  Another range extension is of the horsetail, Equisetum ramossimum subsp. debile  previously recorded from the provinces of Namosi, Naitasiri and Ba.  One other plant species was collected which is the most recent record and new range extension for the ground orchid Macodes cf. petola. This is a very rare species and one not normally seen in the forest.

 

Fiji Liveworts New Findings

Three new occurrence records were made for Fiji liverworts. MSc student, Mereia Katafono, discovered these new finds for Fiji during the process of identifying several hundred moss and liverwort samples collected during her fieldwork.  The three liverworts were all collected from Vago Forest Reserve in the province of Naitasiri.  One of them, not yet identified to species level, belongs to the genus Cephaloziella, and is the first member of this genus to be found in Fiji.  Two other species (Telaranea tasmanica and Telaranea aff. Granulate) have also never been found in Fiji before.

 

New Findings in Habitat Ecology, and Plant-animal Interactions

During fieldwork in the Rewa delta as part of the IUCN MESCAL project, MSc student Lekima Copeland recorded a new addition to the brackish water fishes of Fiji; the sweetlip Plectorhinchus albovittatus. Previously this species was only known in Fiji from reef habitats. The finding of a juvenile specimen in the brackish delta waters expands our knowledge of the life cycle requirements of this species and highlights the importance of the mangrove ecosystem as a nursery for juvenile reef fishes.

Two significant breakthroughs were made in the CEPF-funded project ‘Conservation of Fiji’s Endemic and Rare Butterflies: Hypolimnas inopinata and Papilio schmeltzi’, which is coordinated by Hilda Sakiti-Waqa. The identity of the host plant of H. inopinata has now been determined conclusively to be Elatostema nemorosum Seem., an endemic member of the nettle family (Urticaceae).  Additionally, the life cycle of this rare butterfly has been comprehensively documented, with larval instars, pupa and egg stages identified and their morphology fully recorded.

2012

2012

Emalu REDD+

An initial rapid biodiversity assessment and archaeological survey was done on the Emalu forest area in the Navosa province on Viti Levu

 

MESCAL project – Rewa river delta

This project was implemented by the IUCN Oceania to conduct preliminary assessments of biomass and carbon inventory in mangrove forests.

 

External links:

http://theredddesk.org/countries/initiatives/mangrove-ecosystem-conservation-and-livelihoods-mescal-project

http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/mescal_brochure_030810_compressed.pdf

https://www.iucn.org/sites/dev/files/mangroves_biodiversity_assessment_report_fiji.pdf 

 

MESCAL Mangrove Project and the World Bank REDD+ project (to assess standing carbon stocks in an interior forest)

IAS also continued to develop expertise in community-based economic analysis, working with Landcare NZ in 2012 to assess the economic impact of invasive species and with Landcare NZ and PACE-SD (USP) to study cost-benefit analysis of various approaches to disaster risk reduction.


IAS staff also continued studies on butterflies, cloud forest biodiversity and the impacts of locally-managed marine areas.

 

 East Melanesia Conservation Investment Strategy : Critical Environment Partnership Fund

The IAS team was requested by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) to manage the development of a regional profile and investment strategy for the Eastern Melanesian Islands, which includes Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.  CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Dévelopment, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank.  A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.  USP lead regional, national and community meetings to entertain views on how civil society could best be supported to carry out biodiversity conservation.  Its report was presented to the heads of the above organizations in December, 2012 and was very positively received; US$9 million was allocated to carry out the suggested investment strategy.

 

Potential New Species of Aquatic Gastropods

Three potentially new species of aquatic gastropods in the genus Fluviopupa  (Family Taetidae) were collected during a biodiversity assessment of streams in Emalu, in the province of Nadroga-Navosa.  The collections were made by MSc student Bindiya Rashni.  Preliminary identification work suggests that these could be three species new to science and endemic to Fiji.  Bindiya also carried out freshwater macroinvertebrate surveys in Kadavu which yielded a larval specimen from the family of aquatic insects known as Crambidae, which were previously unrecorded in Fiji.  The larva is yet to be identified to genus or species level, but preliminary analysis reveals a relationship with members of the genus Hygraula, which is found in New Zealand.Three potentially new species of aquatic gastropods in the genus Fluviopupa  (Family Taetidae) were collected during a biodiversity assessment of streams in Emalu, in the province of Nadroga-Navosa.  The collections were made by MSc student Bindiya Rashni.  Preliminary identification work suggests that these could be three species new to science and endemic to Fiji.  Bindiya also carried out freshwater macroinvertebrate surveys in Kadavu which yielded a larval specimen from the family of aquatic insects known as Crambidae, which were previously unrecorded in Fiji.  The larva is yet to be identified to genus or species level, but preliminary analysis reveals a relationship with members of the genus Hygraula, which is found in New Zealand.

 

2011

2011

Botanical Assessment

The highlight of a recent rapid botanical assessment survey to Kadavu island by the herbarium team, resulted in the discovery of a potentially new and unique species of Medinilla sp. (plant related to the tagimoucia) that has white flowers. The plant specimen collected from this species is currently being taxonomically assessed.

Southern Lau Expedition

As part of the baseline survey of the Southern Lau group for terrestrial and marine resources, with various government ministries and NGOs, the herbarium provided financial support and expertise in the fields of plant and vegetation ecology, mammology and entomology.

External links: 

http://www.conservation.org/publications/Documents/lessonsLearned/CI_CEPF_Biodiversity_Conservation_Lessons-22-Southern-Lau.pdf

http://www.cepf.net/SiteCollectionDocuments/poly_micro/FinalCompletionReport_USP_RapidBiologicalAssessmentSurveySouthernLauFiji.pdf 

Biodiversity Studies of Fiji Cryptogams & Pteridophytes

An international team of collaborators, led by Dr. Matt von Konrat of Chicago’s Field Museum, together with a team from the South Pacific Regional Herbarium, spent four weeks carrying out field work on Viti Levu and Kadavu, collecting bryophytes, lichens and ferns. The bryophytes and lichens, which are poorly known from Fiji and the tropical Pacific region, were the main focus of this expedition. Documenting the diversity and distribution of these tiny plants is vital for our understanding of their ecological significance, including their potential to act as indicators of climate change.

External links:

https://www.fieldmuseum.org/science/blog/video-botanical-exploration-fiji

https://www.fieldmuseum.org/biodiversity-studies-fiji-cryptogams-ferns-bryophytes-and-lichens

http://blog.tepapa.govt.nz/2011/09/19/ferning-in-fiji/ 

http://blog.tepapa.govt.nz/2011/09/20/up-the-volcano-fiji-ferns-ii/

2010

2010

Conservation International (CI)

The Herbarium staff have received funding from Conservation International (CI) to undertake studies on the biodiversity of Fiji’s montane rain forest and to study the conservation of two endangered butterflies in Fiji.

Lau Biodiversity Survey :  CI/USP

Another grant from CI helped support a biodiversity survey of Southern Lau in Fiji.  The Lau group are an outer island group of Fiji far from the capital and the most recent biodiversity study had been undertaken in 1924.  In 2007 a survey was done of the northern Lau islands and in 2009 central Lau.  These surveys involve about twenty scientists who live aboard a research vessel for one month as it moves among the small islands.  Hundreds of new species not previously known to exist in the Lau group have been documented and priority areas for conservation identified.  Marine samples were also collected for drug discovery work.

2009

2009

Darwin Initiative project: 'Focus on Fiji: Insect Inventories for Biodiversity Assessment

IAS also has two major projects funded by the UK-based Darwin Initiative.  Under one several people are being trained in entomology and insect collections have been made in ten locations.  Under work on the second project a Postgraduate Diploma in protected area management has been developed and the year-long Pacific Island Community-based Conservation Course was offered for the fifth time for sixteen Pacific islanders in 2009.

Environment Projects

Environment Unit Projects

Marine Area Work

Locally-Managed Marine Area work

For the Locally-Managed Marine Area work in Fiji a major emphasis for 2013 was an “audit” of all 150 villages where IAS has been working with the community on inshore fishery management.  The study sought to determine the reality of what was actually happening at the ground level.  The good news was that 70% of the communities perceived that their management plan was leading to an increase in fish biomass.  About 50% of the community reported opening their “tabu” areas during the previous year.  This is in line with traditional use of the management tool where a “tabu” allowed for an increase in fish for later use, like a bank account.  We are working with communities to help them determine what their “fish account” interest is so that they only harvest the “interest” and not the fish “capital”.

 

ICM

Integrated Coastal Management (ICM)

2013

The work with integrated coastal management (ICM) continues in Ra and Kadavu provinces with the development and implementation of action plans to address coastal management issues.  In 2014, it is hoped that a Framework for a provincial coastal management plan can be developed and completed for at least one province.


2011

IAS also continued to play a key role in furthering integrated coastal management in Fiji, a concept it helped introduce via a national workshop in 2002.  The government of Fiji has mandated in its Environment Management Act (2005) that a national ICM Plan be developed.  In 2011 a framework for such a plan was developed by Ms Patrina Dumaru, a part-time IAS staff member also doing her PhD on climate change adaptation.  The framework calls for provincial-level ICM plans to be developed first in key provinces and this work will be undertaken in 2012.


2009:

Integrated Coastal Management:

The Environment Unit besides the consultancies already mentioned continued with a number of project related to community-based inshore fishery management and integrated coastal management (ICM).  The ICM work has lead to a national ICM committee being written into national law; the first task of this committee will be to develop a framework for a national coastal management plan in Fiji.

Associated with the community work are several research projects to better understand the effects of the marine management on the fishery.  One is a “catch per unit effort” initiative in which fishermen record data on types, sizes and location of fish caught and fishing gear used.  These data are currently being analysed.  An interesting early find is that 70% of fish caught in a Fijian village are sold.

Leadership & Management Training

Leadership and Management Training

The leadership and management training for i Taukei chiefs has continued and three more provinces completed in 2013 and the final province, Lau, begun.  This i Taukei Affairs Board (iTAB) has taken over leadership of the training with staffing support from IAS.

Also working with iTAB a program to place environmental specialists at the Provincial Offices has begun. The concept grew out of the ICM and LMMA projects. The Ra ICM project funded the first such officer and IAS is supporting such an officer in Kadavu and four more are being supported by a grant to iTAB from the Packard Foundation organized via IAS.  These officers will assist in community-based resource management project in their area.


2011

IAS also continued to be active in leadership and management training in Fiji.  In 2009-2010 it developed and trialed a leadership training program for Fijian traditional chiefs.  This was well-received, especially by the i Taukei Affairs Ministry, which incorporated this training into their 2011 work plan.  IAS and iTA Ministry staff worked together in 2011 to conduct the workshops in seven provinces, first working with district chiefs on a provincial level and then holding workshops in each district of the province for village chiefs.  The management aspect especially focuses on managing natural resources.

2009

Analysis has shown that success of community-based projects often depends on the quality of leadership.  With this in mind, IAS has developed a Leadership and Management Training Program.  In 2009 this was funded by the Fijians Trust Fund and carried out in partnership with the Fijian Affairs Board in two provinces in Fiji.  

The Leadership and Management (L&M) training workshops are being conducted jointly by the Institute of Applied Sciences Environment Unit and the Ministry of Fijian Affairs, targeting traditional leaders in the Fijian communities.  The PRIDE project with the focus of raising awareness of conserving unique and endemic species is taking advantage of the opportunities during FLMMA workshops to spread the word about conservation of threatened resources.  This is being done with the international NGO RARE.

Climate Change

Climate Change

Institute’s expertise was also recognized by being subcontracted to implement the Coral Triangle Fiji project under the Asian Development Bank and as a local implementation partner (with PACE-SD) in the US$20 million USAID project on climate change in the region.  The biodiversity assessment team also performed assessments under the IUCN.


2011

Another major consultancy of F$200,000 was an assessment of climate change adaptive capacity in the Pacific region commissioned by the Australian government.  IAS lead a team of climate change researchers to develop a framework to assess adaptive capacity and applied it to several communities in eight Pacific countries which had participated in climate change adaptation projects conducted by various regional organization.


2009 - 2010

IAS successfully completed a community-based climate change adaptation project with USP’s PACE-SD.  Major follow-up funding for such work  was approved in principal from the European Union and AUSAid.  NZAID has been supporting two major projects with IAS under its Government Agency Partnership Fund.  A water supply and wetland sewage system was developed for an entire village.  Additional funding was allocated to complete the work in 2010.

Through its climate change adaptation study, possible “soft” measures for coastal protection were evaluated.  These include mangrove and vetiver grass planting and coconut trunk wave barriers.  The partnership with New Zealand to develop a village waste management system has completed its design which treats “greywater’ at source and “blackwater” via a wetland.  The two-stage wetland development is nearing completion.  This is the first time in the Pacific that such a system has been developed for an entire village.

Postgraduate Research

Post-Graduate Research

IAS currently has a number of students undertaking postgraduate (Master of Science) level research and is engaged in on-going monitoring of management effectiveness. This research aims to be ‘needs driven’ and respondent to the questions that communities that are engaged in Community Based Natural Resource Management are asking. The projects currently underway include the following:

  • Herbivory-algal-coral cover interaction. There has been much research in Fiji on the role of herbivorous fish in keeping in check algal overgrowth of reefs and thereby restoring the coral dominated balance of resistant and resilient reef ecosystems. A Masters student is expanding this work to four sites across Fiji that have well-established community-based managed areas. They are looking to prove the results chain of increased herbivorous fish leading to increased algal grazing rate leading to decreased biomass of algae in situ on the reef and finally to increased live coral cover. Fieldwork is now complete and initial analysis is showing some clear relationships between these parameters at each of the sites investigated. There is a paper in preparation from this study.
  • Spill-over of mature fish from community based marine protected areas. Whilst hypothesised extensively in the scientific literature, spill-over from ‘mature’ marine protected areas has been documented in only a few cases; and none in the case of the small community based protected areas in Fiji. The Masters student conducting this research has undertaken experimental fishing in a controlled manner inside, on the border of and at increasing distances from the no-take marine protected areas. Data collection is now complete and initial analysis being conducted in partnership with the University of Queensland, Australia is showing that spill over is clearly evident; with increased fish catches near the boundary of the no-take zone but decreasing with distance from the MPA.  There is a paper currently in preparation for this study.  This is an important result as it demonstrates the social and economic value of establishing community-based no take areas.  The study also has the additional benefit of collecting both catch-data and underwater visual census of fish from the same site at the same time.  We plan on examining and comparing these two methods for collecting in-situ data on the health of the fishery.
  • Scaling up community-based management. Under this project we undertook a reserve design planning process to scale up from an existing network of community based marine protected areas to an island-wide functional network following many of the protected area networking principles. This study used the latest reserve design planning tools (Marxan) in a participatory manner with the communities in question and resulted in modification of the configuration of the MPA network. We intend to expand the use of this approach to other coastal provinces under other projects we are implementing.
  • Examining the effects of watershed disturbance on small stream flora and fauna. As community-based resource management spreads beyond just the inshore marine areas, we recognised a need to examine the impacts of watershed disturbance through differing land use on the biodiversity of Fijian streams. A Masters student is working in 6 small catchments and data collection is now complete with analysis of results expected in early 2013.
  • Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE) monitoring is and continues to be done across around 14 of the more mature FLMMA sites including 8 IAS-partnered sites. There now exists an extensive dataset spanning several years. Quarterly reports in Fijian are prepared for the communities engaged in this work and we intend to undertake some longitudinal analysis over time for selected sites in 2013.

Watershed Management

Watershed Management

  • IAS also continued its work on community-based watershed management with projects in Ra, Nadroga and Kadavu.  Under the work communities learn about the importance of maintaining healthy watersheds and develop action plans to improve the management of the watershed.  This has involved the establishment of community tree nurseries and extensive reforestation of sensitive, erosion-prone areas.  A plant believed new to science was discovered in a vulnerable area of Kadavu.

IAS’ vision to extend its community-based adaptive management approach to watershed management was realized with the award in late 2009 of two major grants, one from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) under its Water and Nature Initiative to work in Kadavu and Nadroga and another from Conservation International to work in Ra.

 

Governance

Governance Enhancement

IAS continues to pioneer the use of participatory techniques and adaptive management to assist communities adopt good governance practices in developing, implementing and monitoring resource management plans. It continues to work with the USP Governance Program to study how Fijian villages can best govern themselves and in developing case studies in environmental governance.  The need for more effective village governance has been highlighted as one of the major needs for, among other things, better coastal management.  The other needs are subregional master planning and a special coastal commission to provide permits for developments near the coast.  Efforts were made in 2009 to set up mechanisms of cooperation with the Fiji government to achieve these ends.  A leadership and training program for traditional chiefs was implemented in two provinces in 2009.



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Page last updated: Friday, December 01, 2017
Institute of Applied Science
Faculty of Science and Technology
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Suva, Fiji.
Tel: (+679) 323 2965
Fax: (+679) 323 1534