Pacific Natural Products Research Centre Projects

  • Project Name: Pacific Islands Marine Bioinvasion Alert Network (PacMAN)
  • Amount of Funding: $865,000 USD
  • Donor Agency and Executive AgencyFlanders Government, through the Flanders UNESCO Science Trust Fund (FUST) and co-funded by the Richard Lounsbery Foundation
  • Lead Agencies
    University of South Pacific’s Institute of Applied Science leads & coordinates the research aspect locallyUNESCO/Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) through the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS)
  •  Partners:
    International –
    IOC Project Office for IODE, OBIS Secretariat

    IOC Science and Communication Centre on Harmful Algae

    Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS)

    Marine Biodiversity Observation Network of GEO (MBON)

    International Maritime Organization (IMO)

    South-West Pacific OBIS node hosted at NIWA (SWP-OBIS)

    Genomic Observatories Metadatabase (GEOME)

    Global Omics Observatory Network (GLOMICON)

    Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC)

    Genomic Observatories (GOs) Network

    Global Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) Programme

    LifeWatch ERIC

    Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ)

    OceanTeacher Global Academy (OTGA)

    National – Fiji Invasive Alien Species Task Force

    Biosecurity Authority Fiji (BAF)

    Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji

    Ministry of Waterways & Environment of Fiji

    Regional – University of the South Pacific (USP) via Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS)

    Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)

    The Pacific Community (SPC)

  • Description
    Alien Invasive species (AIS) are considered one of the greatest threats to biodiversity in the Pacific apart from climate change. The continuous changes in the environment and re-invasions or accidental introductions make eradication extremely difficult. It is extremely important that cost effective approaches to prevent such invasions is implemented rather than attempting to eradicate its establishment. There is a need, at both national and regional levels to address AIS in a holistic and coordinated approach to ensure that there are effective and systematic strategies available to detect the introduction and monitor the spread of AIS. Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) are particularly vulnerable to AIS incursions. In addition to the climate and biodiversity crises, marine bioinvasions also pose a real biosecurity risk for human health and the sustainability of livelihoods. Ship’s ballast water and vessel biofouling linked to the fast-growing blue economy, are the main vectors for the introduction and spread of AIS in the marine environment.The 3 year pilot project conducted in Fiji will develop a national invasive species monitoring plan using novel technologies to assist with the management of invasive species in country. Key in country contribution will be the development of an early-warning decision-support tool for Pacific SIDS, offering a user-friendly dashboard tool indicating the potential presence of invasive species (including pathogens and pest species) or risk of invasions to support local management. The overall coordination and implementation of the project will be from the IOC/OBIS’s head office in Oostende, Belgium while a local project manager and a project assistant hosted at the IAS will coordinate activities locally.
  • Project Objectives
    (i) A needs assessment and review of current best practices in invasive species detection(ii) Capacity building of local scientists in field sampling, sample processing, DNA sequencing and data management;(iii) Establishing and operating national invasive species monitoring plans with key partners and stakeholders;(iv) Building a bioinformatics pipeline to improve the availability of metabarcoding data for invasive species managers and feed these into global data infrastructures(v) Develop the decision-support tool with the assistance of an expert scientific advisory team and major local stakeholders

The Nagoya Protocol and its access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation under the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement. Fiji has ratified the Nagoya protocol in 2011 but has been using an ad-hoc Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) policy consistent with the Convention on Biological Diversity and developed under the IAS’s International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (ICBG) programme as a precursor to draw up a legal framework especially for bioprospecting. Since 2014, the Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS) started a collaborative Global Environment Facility (GEF) project aimed at the establishment of a legal framework for Fiji’s ABS policy with key government line agencies of Ministry of Local Government, Housing, Environment, Infrastructure and Transport (MLHE), the Ministry of i-Taukei Affairs (MTA) and the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests (MoFF).

Click on the link below for full details on the project.

The ICBG program aims to integrate improvement of human health through drug discovery, conservation of biodiversity, promotion of scientific research and economic capacity of developing countries. In particular, the program hopes to discover and develop new pharmaceuticals from natural sources and to conserve the resources from which these pharmaceuticals are derived. The project also endeavors to work with the local and national governments to secure access to marine samples and establish benefit-sharing protocols and mechanisms that support the research activities.

Laboratory Services 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.
  • 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.

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.

  • 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.

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

South Pacific Regional Herbarium and Biodiversity Centre Projects

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.

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Samoa Flora Project  l

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.

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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.


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:

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

Environment Projects

The Fiji Ridge to Reef (R2R) project is a multi-partnership agreement for a 1.5 Million USD project to improve climate resilience and to sustain livelihoods in Fiji. Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the 3-year project is facilitated but the UNDP and the Ministry of Waterways and Environment.

The Fiji R2R Project intends to preserve biodiversity, ecosystem services, sequester carbon, improve climate resilience and sustain livelihoods through a ridge-to-reef management of six priority water catchments on the two main islands of Fiji. The catchments include Waidina-Rewa, Tuva and Ba on Viti Levu and Labasa, Vinivia and Tunuloa on Vanua Levu.

In collaboration with development partners, namely the Government of Fiji and Non-Governmental Organisations, the project will address key environmental issues in an integrated manner. It will bolster Fiji’s national system of marine protected areas through an enhanced and a sustainable system of LMMA including greater protection of threatened marine species. It also aims to reduce the negative impacts of land-based activities on the Marine Protected Areas through the development and implementation of integrated catchment management plans.This includes mangrove protection and adoption of appropriate sustainable land use practices. It also covers riparian restoration in adjoining upstream watersheds as well as terrestrial protected areas, restored and rehabilitated forests.

RESCCUE stands for the Restoration of Ecosystem Services against Climate Change, a regional project implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC). The RESCCUE project operates in two French Territories namely, New Caledonia, French polynesia and two Pacific Island Countries, Fiji and Vanuatu. The overall goal of RESCCUE is to contribute to increasing the resilience of Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) in the context of global climatic and environmental changes. RESCCUE aims at supporting adaptation to climate change (ACC) through development and implementing of integrated coastal management (ICM), resorting especially to economic analysis and economic and financial mechanisms.

The capacity to adapt and be resilient to the effects of climate change has been a major issue for Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs). As the most vulnerable to the effects of climate changes such as ocean acidification, greenhouse gasses emissions and threats to biodiversity, the PICTs need to increase their capacity to adapt and also increase resilience to such changes.

RESCCUE Pilot Site Objectives

  • Strengthen integrated coastal management and adaptation to climate change.
  • Strengthen the use of economic analysis for integrated coastal management.
  • Ensure economic and financial sustainability of integrated coastal management.
  • Facilitate learning, dissemination and replication of experiences gained from pilot sites.

RESCCUE Project in Fiji

The operator in charge of the implementation of the RESCCUE project in Fiji under the supervision of both SPC and the Fijian Government is the Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS) of The University of the South Pacific. IAS is supported by Landcare Research New Zealand, Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation International and Fiji Environment Law Association.

Five Components of RESCCUE

RESCCUE is divided into five components:

Component 1: Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) – supporting ICM implementation through ICM plans, ICM committees, and management activities concerning both terrestrial and marine ecosystems, capacity building and income generating activities.

Component 2: Economic analysis – using economic analysis to support coastal management and policy decisions.

Component 3: Economic and financial mechanisms – setting up economic and financial mechanisms to generate additional and sustainable funding for ICM: review of options (payment for ecosystem services, taxes, user fees, trust funds, quota markets, offsets, labels); feasibility studies; implementation and monitoring.

Component 4: Capitalisation, communication, dissemination of project outcomes in the Pacific – going beyond pilot sites activities in order to have impacts at the regional level, by fostering experience sharing between sites, cross-sectoral expertise, and communication and dissemination of the project outcomes.

Component 5: Project management – implementing and coordinating the project, by providing technical assistance, organising local and regional steering committees, conducting audits and evaluations (mi-term and ex-post), etc.


RESCCUE is funded primarily by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM) for a duration of five years (01/01/2014 to 31/12/2018).

SESA FIJI (Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) for Fiji REDD+ Readiness)

USP-IAS with its team of well experienced & qualified consultants have been contracted on this project to critically analyse REDD+ strategy options from a social and environmental point of view and propose measures/safeguards to mitigate these risks and impacts during REDD+ strategy implementation. The project also encourages a multi-stakeholder engagement approach that will be part of the Consultation and Participation Plan.

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:

  • 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.
  • 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.

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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