Healing time for ecosystems- Katonivere
Fiji’s Great Sea Reef (GSR) community champion and paramount chief of Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere highlights that this year’s International Mother Earth Day 2020 celebration gives us pause to reflect on the path we have taken over the last 5 decades of development.
In commemorating the 50th anniversary of International Mother Earth Day, Ratu Wiliame said this years Earth Day 2O2O theme of ‘Climate Action,’ is an opportunity for self reflection and provides a platform for everyone to reflect on the importance of how humans are interconnected to nature and the vital role we must play as stewards of nature.
“This year’s International Mother Earth Day 2020, marks a huge shift in the way we do things and as the traditional custodian of the Great Sea Reef, I believe that the coronavirus pandemic is giving us pause to reflect over the pressure we have placed on our natural ecosystems.” he said.
“Now people are beginning to see the importance of sustainable resource management and the conservation messages and efforts raised over the years to ensure biodiversity, food and health security for our future generations, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere said.
He added that threats faced by the Great Sea Reef are unsustainable land use practices which leads to habitat loss,increasing demand for natural resources,overfishing of coastal inshore and offshore marine areas contributing to species decline.
“I believe that it is also a time for the earth to heal, as there is less activity in accessing natural resources such as fishing, excavation and extraction,” he added.
“This period of social distancing is bringing families and communities together to also reflect and plan on taking action for the planet through innovative ways such as raising a vegetable garden, planting trees or composting,picking up rubbish, little things that will create a difference in many ways which helps boost our immune system and fights off stress and anxiety.”he said.
Ratu Wiliame added that in time, once the self isolation ends,we will find an Earth that needs to be restored with important lessons learnt from the corona virus crisis and also a deeper appreciation towards community connections to the land and sea.
Fiji’s Great Sea Reef,locally known as Cakaulevu is the third longest continuous reef system in the Southern Hemisphere and spans over an area of 202,700 square kilometers covering the provinces of Macuata, Bua, Ra and Ba.
The reef provides protection to Fiji’s northern coastal areas and hosts a marine biodiversity that has sustained communities in the area for hundreds of years. 55% of the known coral reef fish are found in the GSR while it is also home to 74% of known corals found in Fiji.
Today it supplies almost 80% of Fish that feeds the domestic markets and is a valuable tourist attraction for its diving, snorkeling and pristine sandy beaches. Two of Fiji’s major deltas Ba and Labasa drain into the GSR and each consists of mangrove systems and much of the seagrasses which are important to turtles, fish nursery grounds, food and economic security and also protects coastal communities from erosion and extreme weather conditions.