Projects - Institute of Applied Science
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
IAS EIA services, include the following disciplines:
Other completed EIAs conducted by IAS:
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.