Friday, November 10, 2006

Coupes not coups - local control of a forest in Drawa

Coupes not coups – local control of Drawa, a forest in Vanua Levu

Drawa is a forested area in the middle of Vanua Levu which cross the border of Macuata and Cakaudrove. A project is under way that gives voice and control to land and forest to the local clans of this place. There are six main villages of residence for Drawa mataqali members and their households. Two villages - Drawa and Vatuvonu, are located within the model area; another two - Keka and Lutukina, are in the periphery of the area and, located away (north) from the model area, are Batiri and Nayarailagi villages. A discussion on the project can be found here.

‘The following specific objectives for the plan are representations of concerns and needs arising from participatory appraisals and surveys carried out in and outside the model area.
1. Ensure a continuous timber supply from the production forest areas for the benefit of present and future generations
2. Select agriculture sites and systems based on environmental, social and economical requirements
3. Clearly and formally delineate agriculture sites to better address land use needs and enable effective monitoring of land use activities
4. Determine income generating activities which has minimum detrimental impact on forest resources
5. Strengthen women in their role as primary household providers through crop diversification (at subsistence level)
6. Diversify into cash crops that are economically viable, environmentally suited, and contributes to general well-being
7. Identify market opportunities
8. Evaluate customary agriculture systems and existing husbandry and management practices for improvement towards soil conservation and land sustainability
9. Protect threatened and vulnerable plants, historical sites, and cultural artefacts
10. Establish a land use monitoring structure which actively involves the landowners

A young guy, Michael Wilczek writes of his part in the Drawa project. My time in Fiji
24 Feb 2006

Visiting the GTZ Project, Vanua Levu

In the second month of my internship I was able to visit the project of the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) in Drawa, Vanua Levu (second largest Island in Fiji). The GTZ project is about a community managed forest area, which includes awareness rising and training concerning sustainable forest management. Most of the Inhabitants have understood that they should conserve the forest for the next generation.

The people in the Drawa area are doing this by wisely cutting only specific trees (old enough and well sellable) and they are generating more income. In addition the people living in the project area are involved in every step of the programme fulfilling the social component of the concept of Sustainability. All the activities focus on sustainable development.

The Drawa area is situated in the middle of Vanua Levu. In contrast to the coastal areas this location is blessed with endless and dense forests and deep, clean rivers. A real paradise, too!

Drawa VillageMy trip started with a flight from Suva to Labasa (Fiji’s fourth-largest town with 25,000 inhabitants) in a small plane with 15 seats. In Labasa I was picked up by Jalesi, the GTZ Project Manager. We drove a long way to get to Drawa Village. We used the new road built in cooperation with the GTZ: a rough and stony road through the forest. Before that road was build the village could only be reached by using horses or on foot.

The village is directly situated by a river. Whenever it gets too hot or you want to take your morning shower you just jump into the river! The people and especially the kids were wonderful and showed me all the hidden secrets of the village, like the Heralding Stone, that was used to call people together in former times or the ‘Pully’, a bucket that enables you to get water out of the river without going down the hill.

Batiri Village
The next village we visited was Batiri. We did our Sevusevu (welcome ceremony) where I presented a traditional thatched mat to the chief of the village. Because of a funeral lots of visitors were there. To show our respect we went into the house of the wife who’s husband past away and joined many women crying.

This was a weird moment, because some of the women were crying out loudly (Fijian tradition) and in the other moment they talked to me normally. After meeting the family I stayed with I was surprised about the well organized ‘catering’. They fed about 100 people nearly at the same time.

Keka VillageThe last village I went to was Keka Village, a small village far from the main road. This site is not completely integrated in the project right know, but they are willing to join. After a few bowls of Kava and a talk with the chief I watched the kids swimming in the river and jumping from a bridge. The sweets I brought were loved by the children and so they surrounded me watching my camera and telling me their names. We didn’t spent the night there and I went back to Labasa that day.

My WorkIn the first days we visited the forest. Jalesi showed me the trees that are going to be cut. They are marked with numbers and Bands. The hike was amazing! The dense forest seems to be endless and shows a wonderful variety of plants and animals..

I was also able to do some work for WWF: I made some new contacts with teachers in Vanua Levu for the WWF School Climate Witness Project. In Labasa I went to the ministry of education and picked up a list of all schools that would be very helpful to the work of the Peace Corps Volunteers, who are going to do activities in the schools. The activities include a presentation to explain Climate Change and a survey that helps the kids to interview their grandparents about changes in nature they have noticed.

Michaela Wilczek


sushil yadav said...

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.





To read the complete article please follow either of these links :




Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Thank you Sushil for your comments. So, how do you live your life to put this philosophy into practice. Turn your back on the fast pace somehow? Live in a forest like Drawa?

Pandabonium said...

Good article. Nice to read about conservation in action from someone who saw it first hand.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Panda, I noticed you commented one time about - what do you do when the comments are longer than the blog posting!

I cut and paste a bit too much in our blogs but I justify this in that I am collecting stuff about Macuata aka babasiga and will eventually have an archive of many stories. This one was nice because it is one young guy's observations and story and not some academic paper filled with jargon and wish-lists that never eventuate.

So much government money - local, state, national -here in Australia and I'm sure in Fiji too - is spent on feasibility studies and so forth. In Geelong they are spending half a million on another arts feasibility study instead of just getting on with opening up more art studios, adding to the library, etc.

Pandabonium said...

I agree. "Just do it" is a great motto. Of course it has to be thought out, but sometimes they make an industry out of planning. One of my pet peeves with the Airports Division in Hawaii was when they spent $150 million on plans for things that would never be built! What a waste.