The fight to reclaim their beach from the sea at Nacula village in the Yasawa Group, made another breakthrough when villagers recently planted 2700 mangrove seedlings.
Both young and old took to the village foreshore to plant mangroves, united by a fervent desire to protect their village from the encroaching tide.
Nacula is one of four villages including Naisisili, Malakati and Navutua on Nacula Island that share similar experiences with coastal erosion.
Though a beautiful tourist hotspot, the beach on Nacula Island has literally been chomped up by the sea, exposing hard beach rock as occasional large waves hit against the fencing enclosing the Health Center and break ever closer to the church.
Testament to the ruthless power of the ocean, uprooted trees litter the beach area and as Sakaraia Navunisinu, the Chairman of the Nacula Yaubula (Natural Resources) Committee said, “Even towering coconut trees started falling!”
“The sea is now around five meters past where it once rested.”
But Navunisinu concedes that the ocean isn’t entirely to blame for their battered sandy beach. Villagers are at fault as well for extracting tons of sand for village building construction over the years and harvesting mangroves that once offered them coastal protection.
In August 2012, as an ecosystem-based climate adaptation measure, the WWF South Pacific AusAID Building Resilience team, worked with the Nacula villagers in planting mangrove seedlings along their foreshore and setting up a mangrove nursery to supply future planting efforts.
Unfortunately, those seedlings were washed away by strong waves brought on by Cyclone Evan in late December, 2012 but villagers are determined not to be deterred from their quest.
“It’s more than just saving the beach, we are also protecting our food security for we know that once we plant mangroves, we are helping build a nursery for fish to give birth,” Navunisinu said.
Copra used to be the mainstay for villagers, but more effort is now being placed on earnings from tourism with the women making handicraft.
“Although our people are employed at nearby resorts and we are making ends meet, the most important thing to consider is that we don’t go under the waves and that our children’s children will have food security in the future as well,” Navunisinu said.
AusAID Building Resilience National Coordinator, Stephanie Robinson said that the most important element in implementing climate adaptation measures at the community level is the people.
“They have to support it and take ownership of it and this is something that we can witness in Nacula as the village recognised the problem, approached us for assistance and is now actively involved in a replanting program to protect their foreshore.the replanting program, especially the elders who understand the importance of seeing mangrove trees grow tall on their foreshore,” she said.