Today I had the opportunity to join Maleli Qera from C3 as he ran his Conservation Ambassador program for the young people of Kia Island here in Fiji. C3 stands for Community Centered Conservation; it is a NGO focused on providing conservation education to empower communities to protect their local environments. With his Conservation Ambassadors program he trains up the young people of the island to care for their resources.
We visited the far side of the island to check a site where the team has been planting new mangrove trees. The hope is to help establish healthy mangroves where young fish can grow, which will help contribute to the overall health of the reef and strengthen the community’s livelihood. Along the way the group collected mangrove seeds which they relocated to the more suitable growing area.
Sadly there was some disappointment on the trip, as the team discovered the seedlings they had been growing were washed away in a recent storm. Once the mangroves are mature they protect the island from coastal erosion but until then they are susceptible to storm surge. Unfazed, the group moved on the a second, more protected site for the new plantings.
The day’s work was helpful in protecting the island’s resources, but the true value of the activity was the educational component and the investment it instilled in those involved.