From left: Robin Yarrow, Mere Pulea, Suliana Siwatibau, Marika Tuiwawa, Dilip Khatri, Dick Watling (absent Winston Thompson).
Dick Watling has been a resident of Fiji since childhood and is the Principal and Founder of Environmental Consultants Fiji Ltd., Fiji's sole specialist environmental consultancy practice. In this capacity his 25 years of consultancy experience encompasses a very broad range of environmental and conservation planning and management in Pacific Island Countries and South East Asia.
Dick gained a doctorate in Applied Ecology from the University of Cambridge, UK, and his specialist expertise in tropical forest and terrestrial vertebrate studies has formed the basis of extensive work experience in environmental assessment and conservation and protected area management. Dick is an internationally acknowledged authority on Fijiís environment, its birds and terrestrial wildlife. He has published five books and over 25 scientific papers.
Dilip is the Chairman of Jacks of Fiji Group of Companies and Vision Group Limited, new owners of Courts Fiji Limited. Jacks of Fiji commenced with humble beginning in 1976 with 2 employees. Today the group employs 850 people with 19 retail stores all over Fiji, 4 restaurants, a garment factory, construction, joinery and manufacturing plant.
Dilip took his fatherís vision and grew the small retail store in Nadi into what it is today, Jackís of Fiji Group of Companies. He has a passionate commitment to fulfilling social responsibilities, and over the years has been a patron of most of the social and religious organization in Nadi. He had been Mayor of Nadi Town from 1993 to 1999. In 2002 he was made an Officer of the Order of Fiji and on 1st August 2006 was appointed as a member of the Fiji College of Honours.
Dilip has keen business acumen, as well as strong people management abilities, which have been driving forces for Jackís success.
Agricultural graduate who joined the Fiji Department of Agriculture in 1962 and worked as an extension officer until 1969 in Nadroga and the Central Division. Served as Permanent Secretary for 5 years to 1978, was transferred to Ministry of Finance and then to Public Service Commission in 1983.
Served as Ambassador to the UN for 6 years from 1985 and retired from the Public Service in 1994. Held the position of CEO Telecom Fiji for 10 years until 2005.
Is deeply concerned about the importance of preserving Fijiís biodiversity and supports all efforts to ensure this.
Botanist by training with special interest in plant genetics. Previous experience includes teaching, research, public service (national and international), and work for a Pacific based development NGO. Previous areas of work experience include rice breeding, herbarium maintenance, biology teaching, project management, energy policy and planning, environment conservation, and community development. Volunteer for general community service through membership of governing and advisory bodies of several national, regional and international NGOs as well as intergovernmental bodies. Free lance consultant on issues of resource management and community development. Long term interest in issues of gender in development, and environmental conservation. Maintain traditional village linkage for promotion of sustainable development at local level.
A veterinarian, he has lived in Fiji nearly all his life. Returned to Fiji in 1969 after graduating, to join the Ministry of Agriculture. Reached the position of Permanent Secretary for the Ministry and subsequently served as Secretary for Tourism, Foreign Affairs and National Planning, before retiring in 1999, after 30 years service.
Has served on many government boards and received the Fiji Civil Service Medal in 1995. Also presented with the Knight of the Order of Agricultural Merit by France in 2004.
Is passionate about Fijiís natural heritage/biodiversity and environment. Has a special interest in Fijiís freshwater ecosystems.
A high school teacher and civil servant until 1995, when he joined the University of the South Pacific (USP) as lecturer in biology. Since 1998, he has been Curator of the South Pacific Regional Herbarium based at the USP.
He is involved with many government and non government, regional and international groups that are involved with environmental and biodiversity conservation and management, and has developed and implemented programs that promote research, taxonomy and conservation management of Fijiís biodiversity.
An internationally-acknowledged expert on Fijiís plants and vegetation, he has published or co authored several papers in major journals, and many technical reports related to Fijiís environment and biodiversity.
Marika loves Fijiís natural environment and endeavours to share this with others.
Mere Pulea, qualified in both law (Lincoln's Inn, London) and social work(University of Queensland)has worked for the Fiji Government and the University of the South Pacific. She has also worked as an environmental Legal Consultant in the Pacific Region for a number of years, She has written and published text books, chapters, monographs and reports on Pacific legal systems, family law and environmental law. In early 2004, she was appointed a Judge of the High Court of Fiji and in 2005 as a Judge of the Family Division of the High Court.
After NFMV\'s recent lack of success in finding the Kulawai on Viti Levu, we have prepared a Species Recovery Plan and future searches will focus on Taveuni. There are now real fears that the Red-throated Lorikeet could be Fiji\'s first bird extinction in modern times. NFMV is seeking funds to launch another search. We are grateful to Elsa and David Miller who have produced some greeting cards of paintings by George Bennett in their collection - the sale of which will go to NFMV\'s endangered species field projects.
Taveuni National Park Project
Located in the Province of Cakaudrove, the island of Taveuni is Fijiís 3rd largest island. Since the 1980s, the National Trust and the Fiji Department of Forests have been advocating for the merger of the Ravilevu Nature Reserve, Taveuni Forest Reserve and the Bouma National Heritage Park to form the Taveuni National Park. In 1993 the Fiji Department of Environment proposed the ĎIntegrated Development Plan for Taveunií supporting this combination to better promote the wilderness and cultural features of Taveuni to harness Taveuniís tourism market to its full potential.
The Fiji Department of Forests, National Protected Areas Committee, Cakaudrove Provincial Council and NatureFiji-MareqetiViti, with support from the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund are revitalising efforts to bring Taveuni's three current protected areas into one Taveuni National Park:
1. Taveuni Forest Reserve (FR). Declared in 1914. Size: 11, 160 HA
2. Ravilevu Nature Reserve (NR). Declared in 1959. Size: 4, 108 HA
3. Bouma National Heritage Park (BNHP). Established by covenant in 1990. 1, 417 HA.
TAVEUNIíS WILDLIFE AND LANDSCAPE
Much of Fijiís land and forest has now been impacted and modified by deforestation, commercial and subsistence agriculture, plantation timber production and/or invasive alien species. We must also remember the historic impacts of the first human settlement that resulted, for example, in the extinction of many species and conversion of dry forests to grasslands.
Not only has Taveuni retained significant forest and wetland ecosystems across a full altitudinal range (ridge to reef), but also it has not been severely impacted by invasive species, in particular the mongoose.
The absence of the mongoose from Fijiís third largest island has resulted in the retention not only of Taveuniís endemic fauna species but also Fijian endemics that have been extirpated or are highly threatened on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.
SPECIAL LANDSCAPES ON TAVEUNI
Taveuniís outstanding landscape qualities are derived mainly from its tropical forest cover. From all points around the Taveuni coastline, there are views of the undisturbed, densely forested uplands.
Frequently cloud and mist-capped, the rugged central range dominates the landscape with characteristic emergent volcanic cones. From the peaks of the central range descend the long symmetry of old lava flows covered with dense rainforest.
Taveuni is one of the very few islands where the scale of negative land use impacts has been limited. But current trends of widespread soil degradation and encroachment into the reserves indeicate taht this is changing for the worse.
The thriving agricultural industry of Taveuni can attribute its success to the Taveuni Forest Reserve which was established to ensure unlimited water supply and free ecosystem services to the people of Taveuni.
While the Taveuni FR currently provides little monetary benefit to landowners, combined with the Ravilevu NR and Bouma National Heritage Park, the Taveuni National Park will build a strong imperative for ecotourism development.
Not until 2009 were landowners informed about plans which had been around for 30 years on possible Protected Areas development, and the potential of Taveuni's forests for conservation.
If there is one conspicuous lesson of the lead up work of the Sovi Basin Protected Area project, it was that there was no real progress until the landowners and the Fijian administration took up ownership of the process. Getting the landowners involved in the PA discussions is the main objective of this project.
FIJI: STATE OF BIRDS 2013
Birds are by far Fijiís most conspicuous form of terrestrial wildlife Ė they are inspirational, they sing, they are fairly easy to observe and identify, and there is a limited number of species. Biodiversity conservation in Fiji requires the support of landowners and the populace, who can better understand, participate in and support conservation if they are familiar with and knowledgeable about the species of concern. Fijiís first ever State of Birds report ĎFiji: State of Birds 2013í has been prepared by NatureFiji-MareqetiViti with the assistance of the Department of the Environment and local ornithologists. The 44 page report provides an overview of the issues and critical considerations facing Fijiís birds and emphasises how useful birds are as flagships for other elements of our biodiversity. Birds have long been used as indicators of the state of the worldís ecosystems, providing insights into habitat loss, deterioration, pollution and, increasingly, for climate change.