Interest intensifies to protect Dreketi water catchment
The participants who hailed from the villages of Nabavatu, Lutukina, Vunisea, Nabiti, Nasigasiga, Nakanacagi, Vuinaqalutu, Naravuka, Lomaloma, Saivou, Navesidrua, Nanivuda, Nasealevu,Vuiraqilai, Korovuli,Nakavika, Nakalou, Buavou, Nasuva, Batiri, Naralagi and Drawa were part of two community workshops that educated villagers to understand the quality of their rivers and streams while developing a draft Dreketi Integrated Catchment Management Plan.
Organised by WWF in partnership with the Macuata Provincial Office with funding support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) through the Pacific Ecosystems based Adaptation to Climate Change (PEBACC), the participants were provided information gathered by Freshwater invertebrate scientist Bindiya Rashni from a Freshwater Ecological Survey that was undertaken in February 2020.
The findings of the survey focused on the different types of macro invertebrates (crustacean, fish and insects) that live along Fiji’s freshwater streams and how economic activities such as logging and unsustainable farming practices places pressure on both the land and river systems.
WWF-Pacific’s Macuata Field Project officer Opeti Vateitei said participants were also presented findings of the the Dreketi River Estuary Shark and Ray survey.
“A lot of interest was generated from the participants especially when they were trained as river care monitors to carry out simple bio-monitoring surveys to assess the water quality of their respective streams which feeds into the Dreketi river,” he said.
“This awareness and consultation is important because it allows us to be in par with other village headmen by sharing information on ideas as far as the protection of the Dreketi river is concerned and this starts from the headwaters right to the mouth of the river, it is also good that we know the challenges faced,” said Jolame Iosefa, the village headmen of Nasealevu village.
“I am going to improve on my farming practices and I will also share what I have learnt in terms of conserving our riparian zones and terrestrial biodiversity to my fellow villagers,” he added. Inspired by the findings that the Dreketi river has shown a high diversity of shark, ray and fish species, Eta Curuvale of Batiri village said the responsibility for a safer future and healthy river system lies with everyone.
Dreketi River is the nursery site for certain species of sharks and rays, as custodians we need to be thankful of the knowledge provided and help protect the Dreketi river especially upstream from communities dumping rubbish,” said Eta Curuvale of Batiri village, Wailevu.
Vateitei added that the representatives from the respective villages are committed to safeguarding their streams and rivers as this was a major subject of discussion during the workshop.
He added that the Dreketi Intergrated Catchment Management Plan once finalized and endorsed would probably be the first of its kind for Fiji.