© Jürgen Freund / WWF


Sustainable Coastal Resource Use Management or SCRUM is WWF South Pacific’s largest conservation programme.
The SCRUM team help communities to sustainably manage their natural resources while ensuring livelihoods are not compromised by working with communities to change practices as well as with national and regional partners to change policies.

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.


Ecosystem Based Management (EBM)
EBM is about connectivity. Whether working on land, rivers or sea, what we do and how we do it can affect all the ecosystems around us. Our actions impact upon places far and wide - for example, what we put into our rivers ends up in our sea and then onto your plates - a healthy land-use practice helps protect our livelihoods and food security.
  • 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
Watch the video of communities in Levuka, who mapped their island to create a natural resource management plan. 
Fishermen doing the 'fish driving'. Tikina Wai, Fiji. There are two boats hitting the water to drive the fish into the net. This is a Marine Protected Area (MPA) area that is now open for fishing. Before the MPAs were set up the villagers didn't have enough fish so they had to buy meat from outside for food. Now villagers find more fish in the same area, within 2 hours they can catch 8 baskets and don't even have to buy any other meat. The fish from the MPAs, sold to generate income, is enough to make a living and meet obligations to Vanua, Church and family. This was a WWF Project that started together with mangrove protection areas in the same area. The MPAs have been in place since 2000.
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images
On invitation by a community, WWF draws together a localised management plan for the area through a series of community consultations. These comprehensive plans comprise of a number of different elements, which can include:

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.

Field sites of the Coastal Management and Inshore Fisheries programme
Seaweed drying is now a major income earner for the people of Onoilau


In essence, the Coastal Management policy section advocates for changes to local and international legislation in two ways. On one hand, WWF work in partnership with Government and other stakeholders to ensure that our national policies are aligned with multilateral environmental agreements which Fiji has rectified. On the other hand, WWFadvocate for the revision of national policies and legislation to reflect the lessons WWF have learned through working in the Fiji Islands and the South Pacific for over 15 years to best ensure the long-term and sustainable conservation of coastal ecosystems.

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.
Woman gutting a fish on Kabara island

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.