To improve the health of coastal ecosystems, the programme works to improve all components of the system including forest, freshwater and marine environments. This holistic approach recognises that one system cannot be treated in isolation because they are all linked- for example forest soil filters rainwater, which feeds into freshwater bodies and flows into the ocean.
Similarly, for a plan to be successful it must recognise the economic, social and cultural importance of natural resources like qoliqoli (traditional Fijian fishing boundaries) for local inhabitants, as well as their aspirations for progress. As such, WWF builds capacities through skills training thus empowering communities to make their own natural resource management decisions.
This holistic approach to conservation, termed Ecosystem Based Management (EBM), is the hallmark of the Coastal Management programme.
- Emphasises connectivity within and between systems, such as between land and sea;
- Focuses on the consequences of human actions within ecosystems;
- Encourages the protection and restoration of ecosystem structure; function and key processes
- Integrates biological, socioeconomic and governance perspectives
• Management of natural resources: when a natural resource is depleted often action needs to be taken to stop overharvesting and allow the ecosystem to recover, including the implementation of tabu (no take) zones, reforestation projects, and live rock harvesting bans.
• Diversification of livelihoods: to lessen reliance on a single resource, which can put great pressure on it, WWF works to identify new sources of income and to train people to exploit them. For example, farming of different crop species, training in craftsmanship or in salt-making, and sourcing funding for small businesses.
• Climate change adaptation: low-lying Pacific Islands and coasts are incredibly vulnerable to the effects of climate change as the sea level rises and the occurence of extreme weather events increases. Measures to improve climate change resilience include protection of mangroves and seagrass habitats, intallation of rainwater tanks, and relocation of infrastructure inshore.
• Environmental education: it is important for people to have an appreciation of the natural world and how human development affects it if they are to change their behaviour and work towards a more sustainable future. Understanding what climate change is and its adverse effects empowers people to adapt.
• Monitoring of the marine environment and socio-economic conditions allow WWF and communities to assess where progress is being made and areas that need to be improved in the area's management plan. This knowledge can then be used to help other sites in WWF’s network.
As a result of this experience, WWF is advocating for the incorporation of Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) and Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) principles into law for all communities here in Fiji and the region. These two approaches recognise the interconnectivity of all ecosystems, social and economic factors that affect natural resource use and the need to encourage and support community based initiatives. This was reflected in the latest review of Fiji’s Inshore Fisheries Decree in which WWF participated.
WWF is also campaigning for the establishment of a national and regional strategy for the network of CBNRMs to encourage support and sharing of lessons between the different CBNRMs and ensure that similar outcomes and goals are achieved. The importance of CBNRM was recognised through working with grassroots communities in Fiji, where the best conservation results have been achieved when communities took ownership of their management plans and were are allowed to make their own informed management decisions on how to conserve and use their natural resources sustainably.
CBNRM is an approach to conservation and development that recognises the rights of local people to manage and benefit from the management and use of natural resources.
It entails transferring back to communities access and use rights, empowering them with legislation and devolved management responsibility, building their capacity and creating partnerships with the public and private sector actors to develop programmes for the sustainable use of a variety of natural resources.