Fiji is one of the most populated islands in the South Pacific, being home for more than 800,000 people. It consists of an archipelago of more than 300 islands, with forests, mountains and coral reefs that contain a wealth of biodiversity. However, as the effects of climate change are becoming more noticeable, swift action needs to be taken to protect Fiji’s natural resources being at risk.
The marine ecoregion includes coastal, inshore and offshore marine environment, which is rich in endemism. According to WWF, it's a natural and vibrant ecological mosaic. "It links coastal forests and mangroves; tidal estuaries, seagrass beds and lagoons; rich coral reefs and barrier islands. Amongst this rich mosaic can be found over a third of the worlds coral species, the 3rd longest barrier reef in the world, and a large number of species of mangroves and tropical sea grass species."
There is no question that Fiji's natural wealth and diversity makes it a unique places of the world - region that should be protected and nurtured for many generations to come. A collective biodiversity vision is allowing to sustain the integrity and health of those systems for many generations that will follow.
Frontier’s Fiji Marine Conservation and Diving volunteer project can be one of the ways to contribute protecting island natural resources, so they can support the growing population in the area. As a volunteer, you are not only helping to preserve Fiji’s marine and coastal biodiversity, but also experience adventure of a lifetime – scuba diving in the crystal-clear waters and making lifelong friends.
The activities include diving and snorkelling on coral reefs, exploring nearby forests and studying species that live on the island of Beqa. One of the favourite attractions of volunteers is diving at some of the best dive sites to study their health and there is also an opportunity for them to undertake PADI scuba diving courses and qualifications.
Recording observations of the feeding habits & behaviour patterns of marine life is essential, as documenting Fiji biodiversity allows to address the activities that Fiji would lack resources to achieve and put an emphasis on the highlighted issues. The purpose of Frontier project is to not only understand marine resources of the island, but continue the conversation with local communities to help them make informed decisions in terms of their coastal ecosystem management.
According to Conservation International, protecting Fiji is important for various aspects: food security, water access, jobs and prosperity or biodiversity and forests. The first one relates to promoting sustainable practices to improve yield and fish catch, especially with increasing intense weather events. The second one is about working to secure Fiji’s crucial watersheds. The source explains it as follows: “As Fiji’s largest terrestrial protected area, it helps conserve some of the last standing cloud forest in the country and provides fresh water to more than 330,000 people.” The third one – growing tourism industry – needs a healthy and productive natural environment to grow and develop economy of the island. The last one is about protecting threatened endemic species, as some of the biodiversity hotspots remain unprotected.
One of the issues are for example fishing practices, as overfishing and inshore poaching without monitoring it can jeopardize vital resource contributing to Fiji’s economy. Another aspect is the sea level rise and changing weather patterns, that are a result of climate change – this can have impact on not only natural resources, but also habitants of the island.
Frontier’s work in the area provides the local stakeholders and research organisations with the information that can be beneficial for them in design process of implementing management plans for future protection of the island and its marine ecosystem.