WWF-Pacific climate change support officer (center) and Vuaki villagers making a count of the tree plants. Photo: SUPPLIED.
“Two years ago, the beach was 1 to 1.5 metres further out now the sea water has covered that much and is slowly moving in.”
This is the harsh reality, 39 year old Vuaki villager, Vilikesa Nacaucauceva and his community here in the district of Nacula in the Yasawas are facing. Coastal erosion caused by the rising sea levels is slowly affecting the coastline of Vuaki village.
WWF-Pacific through its Pacific American Climate Fund project of Strengthening Governance and Building Resiliency of Communities that is funded by USAID today carried out tree planting exercise with the community along 300 metres of the village’s coastline.
The planting initiative is one of many rehabilitation efforts; WWF-Pacific has been carrying out with communities in the district of Nacula and its seven villages.
Close to 80 trees species of Vesi (Instia bijuga), Sikeci (Aleurites moluccanus), Dilo (Calophyllum vitiensis) and Moli (Citrus) were planted today. The trees were recommended and provided by the Ministry of Forestry and the National Trust of Fiji.
For the Vuaki community, the planting initiative was highly appreciated.
“The planting today is a good move as by the time the trees establish themselves, they should be able to rehabilitate and protect our coastline from the impacts of climate change.”
“We are doing this as in a way to not only protect our environment but the community as well,” said Nacaucauceva.
For 64 year old Vanasio Lasa, the impacts of climate change have severely impacted Vuaki’s nearby landscape as well, something he has seen and experienced over the years.
“More than fifty years I have been staying here, the mangroves where I stay, around 20 metres of it have been taken away by the sea.
“Also, we use to walk across to the nearby island, 20 years ago, now there is a passage of sea that separates the islands and when it is high tide we cannot walk across,” revealed Lasa.
“We plan to have more coconut trees planted. Most of them were destroyed by previous cyclones such as Bebe and Winston.”
“Today’s planting is a good thing, we were looking for something to be planted here, previously there were all coconuts here only, today we are happy of what we have done, maybe we need to plant some trees,” added 60 year old Emosi Ravato of Vuaki village.
WWF-Pacific climate change officer, Dr. Rusila Savou highlighted the planting initiative at Vuaki village was also part of WWF-Pacific’s contribution to the Fiji National Climate Week Carbon Fasting objective of uniting, educating and mobilizing Fijians to reduce Fiji’s national carbon footprint through one week of carbon fasting.