We are so grateful to the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) for recognizing our hard work and supporting us for the project ‘Building Marine Conservation Capacity of Fishing Communities in Fiji’. The CLP is a partnership of four organizations, (Birdlife International, Conservation International, Fauna and Flora International and the Wildlife Conservation Society) working to promote the development of future biodiversity conservation leaders by providing a range of awards, training and mentoring. C3’s second application for the Future Conservationist Award was one of 238 received, with 28 projects from 22 countries eventually supported and the only project based in the Pacific Islands.
C3 has been working on the remote Island of Kia, north of Vanua Levu since January 2011. Previous work has shown that the Kian community is almost completely dependent on the marine resources of the Great Sea Reef for subsistence and livelihood. The reef hosts internationally-significant marine biodiversity and rare and endangered species such as Green Sea Turtles, Humphead Wrasse and Spinner dolphins. Funding from the CLP award will be used to train members of the Kian community in marine conservation and community education with a particular focus on vulnerable groups such as women and youth.
The project will empower the island’s community to make better informed decisions about their marine environment and to spread their knowledge and experiences among other communities dependent on the reef’s rich marine resources. Community Conservation Ambassadors and ‘Reef Rangers’ from the local school will receive training to help monitor the status of local marine resources and raise awareness of local environmental issues. Kians will be encouraged to participate in conservation activities through bimonthly awareness raising events, where the Reef Rangers display their work and perform songs and sketches and Conservation Ambassadors give formal lectures on different aspects of marine conservation.
The future looks bright for the people of Kia and the Great Sea Reef. The award will go a long way to ensuring that local marine resources are sustainably managed for years to come and countless future generations will benefit. Programme Coordinator, Akosita Rokomate, as a member of the CLP network will also receive future training and mentoring opportunities, starting with a two-week Conservation Leadership & Management Training Workshop to be held in Canada in June.