The Assistant Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Honourable Sakiusa Tubuna yesterday urged resource owners in Navua and nearby areas to be good custodians and caretakers of their resources and to utilise them wisely to generate sustainable income for their livelihoods.
He was speaking as Chief Guest at the World Wetlands Day celebration in the Upper Navua Conservation Area where he also reiterated the need for people to take immediate transformative actions to control the human activities such as unsustainable development, illegal logging and land-based sources of pollution that is contributing to the degradation of wetland systems.
World Wetlands Day 2023, with the theme-“It’s Time for Wetlands Restoration”, is aligned to the global call for action to restore the planet and to address the triple planetary crisis- biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution.
“The World Wetlands Day is a wake-up call for affirmative actions for wetlands by investing in financial, human and political capital to save the world’s wetlands from disappearing and to restore those that have been degraded,” Hon.Tubuna said.
“Fiji’s Wetlands comprises of rivers, lakes, sea grass beds. It also includes mangroves ecosystems including associated mudflats that plays an important role in carbon sequestration; and coral reef systems that protects coastal areas from high wave energies that can lead to coastal erosion.
“It is one of the most critically important ecosystems that supports life on earth contributing to the source of freshwater availability, nutrient recycling, food security, sustainable livelihood, climate mitigation and adaptation. Without wetlands, the water cycle, carbon cycle and nutrient cycle would be significantly altered.”
Fiji currently has two sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (also known as Ramsar sites). It includes the Upper Navua Conservation Area (UNCA); and the Great Barrier Sea reef locally known as the Qoliqoli Cokovata located in the Macuata Province.
Hon. Tubuna also took the opportunity to highlight some of the Fiji Government’s development strategies to protect our natural environment and wetlands.
“The Government, through the Department of Environment, is committed to the conservation and protection of the natural environment in Fiji and its work is guided by a number of environmental legislations. It includes the Environment Management Act 2005 for the purpose of protection of the natural resources and for the control and management of developments, waste management and pollution control,” he added.
“The department also enforces the Environment Management (EIA Process) Regulations 2007 that regulates all development activity; and put in place mitigative measures to ensure minimal impact of development activity on the receiving environment. This has been fully exercised and enforced in all areas in Fiji including in the Upper Navua.
“The department is currently working with partners to identify and designate new RAMSAR sites. The department has engaged consultants to undertake Fiji’s Wetlands Directory that document the status of Wetlands in Fiji as well as identify potential new sites to be explored further.”