These Mangrove Management Plans, written in 1985 by one of Fiji’s foremost terrestrial biologists, Dr Dick Watling, while not formulated into law in the Fiji Islands, remain the only comprehensive study of Fiji’s mangrove areas available.
Together these plans comprised over 15,000 ha or about 35% of Fiji’s mangroves.
Maps were prepared of the mangrove resource with the mangroves allocated to alliances (dominant species’ associations which characterised the mangroves of the area and their assumed productivity). Separate maps were then prepared with a zonation overlay.
A hierarchical designation of zones was proposed so as to allow a degree of flexibility with the ‘Managed’ and ‘Development’ designated zones whilst affording maximum protection for the majority of the resource (Table 1 and Figure 2).
The overall purpose of the plan and the zoned maps was to provide the Mangrove Management Committee and Department of Lands with a framework for decision-making when development applications were received or when departmental licensing for specific purposes i.e. mangrove harvesting for timber.
The maps were also shown to developers to focus their attention on the need or not to convert mangroves, and/or direct their attention to more suitable sites.
Mangrove Zonation in the Mangrove Management Plan for Fiji 1985/86.
Primary – Mangrove Reserve
- Resource Reserve
- National Reserve
Secondary – Managed Resource
- Traditional Use
- Wood Production
- Shoreline Protection
Tertiary – Development Zone
- Sewage Treatment
- Effluent Processing
- Urban Development
- Tourism Development
- Agriculture Development
A MANGROVE MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR FIJI (Phase 1)
- Phase 1 . Zonation requirements and a plan for the mangroves of the Ba, Labasa and Rewa Deltas.
- Prepared for The Mangrove Management Committee
- by Dick Watling
- A joint project of the Fiji Government and the South Pacific Commission
Arising from Work shop held in Suva, February 1983 [Lal. 1983] the Cabinet of the Fiji Government endorsed the formation of Mangrove Management committee and directed that a Mangrove Management Plan be drawn up (CP(83)161 – Appendix 1. It was was considered a matter of urgency and pending its preparation there were to be restraints on further mangrove reclamation.
The project is overseen by the Fiji Government, through the Mangrove Management Committee
as a joint project between them and the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme of the South Pacific Commission.
Dr Dick Watling was assigned as Mangrove Consultant from April – September 1985 with the following main terms of reference (Appendix 2),
- To formulate a set of criteria which will form the basis of a broad zonation philosophy in conjunction with the Mangrove Committee.
- To critically assess individual areas with the assistance and advice of governement officers.
In the context of the above and recognising a shortage of funds allocated to the project, the Mangrove Management Committee directed that Phase 1 of the Project be confined to the study of three priority areas – the Rewa, Ba and Labasa Deltas (LD 30/88).
2. Summary Of The Report
Fiji’s mangrove resource is estimated at 38, 543 ha , approximately 10% less than the present official figure. 2,457 ha or 6% of the original resource has been reclaimed.
The mangrove flora is comparatively simple being dominated by 3 species and a putative hybrid. The latter is of great scientific interest.
The 7 principles uses are categorised as:
- Traditional Uses
- Sustenance of the Capture fisheries
- Fuelwood Production
- Shoreline Protection
- Sewage Processing
- Preservation for science/education and aesthetics
- Conversion for alternative uses.
Mangroves have a national importance which is greater than that for individual or sectarian needs. Of major significance is its role in the sustenance of coastal fisheries, the ‘mangrove associated’ fishery being valued at over $20 million in 1983. The principal recipients being coastal subsistence consumers.
Major threats to the resource are poorly conceived and/or executed large-scale reclamations, piecemeal and ecologically unsound developments in peri-urban locations, pollution and spoil disposal from dredging for flood mitigation.
Mangrove reclamation is a valid development option when in the national interest. To ascertain this a broad socio-economic evaluation not a conventional financial analysis, is required.
A statement for National policy is proposed (p25) and a plan for mangrove management based on a zoning system is detailed. A hierarchical system is appropriate to ensure a degree of flexibility in management in those areas scheduled for Development or sustainable management whilst ensuring maximum protection for the majority of the resource. No restriction on traditional rights or utilisation of mangroves is proposed. At this stage the zoning system is intended as a planning guide but it requires endorsement at the highest level to be an effective aid.
The plan is applied to the mangroves of the Ba, Labasa and Rewa Deltas which constitute approximately one third of the national resource. They are major concentrations of highly productive mangroves which require a high level of protection. Zonation is based on consideration of the existing mangrove vegetation which is mapped into alliances reflecting probable differences in productivity, and the existing utilisation both traditional and contemporary, together with the national interest.