It was late 2002, and Coral Cay Conservation (CCC) an internationally renowned conservation specialist suggested a formation of a Mamanuca Coastal Zone Management Group.
In November 2002, the Mamanuca Fiji Hotel Association (MFHA) voted to establish a committee to recommend the best way forward to protect and care for the Mamanuca environment.
That gathering sowed the seeds of what now is known as the Mamanuca Environment Society.
Looking back, Geoffrey Shaw, the chair of the Mamanuca Environment Society, and Chairman & CEO of Castaway Island, said MES has come a long way.
“The plan to develop a dedicated Society with a view to promoting the awareness of the need to protect our fragile environment grew from the realisation the Mamanuca environment was under threat’.”
Mr Shaw said “the society has significantly grown in terms of its influence and worth to all stakeholders in the region. The initial policies and goals developed remain intact however the implementation, particularly through youth education, at the local community level has yielded identifiable benefits to the community as young people are growing up understanding the need to protect their environment.” he said.
The Society continues to promote the awareness of the need to protect the marine and terrestrial resources of the Mamanuca Region and to assist progress, through partnerships with local communities, tourism operators, government and non–government organisations to grow the benefits of conservation for present and future generations.
Mr Shaw said “through education and creating awareness of our fragile marine and terrestrial environment, MES has contributed to a greater understanding by community and commercial stakeholders of the need to protect precious resources for future generations.
“The ability to undertake the many on-going and successfully completed projects over the years has and continues to rely entirely, on the generosity of our members and sponsors. Without their continued support MES would cease to exist,” Mr Shaw said.
He also paid special tribute to the work of the MES team lead by Project Manager, Betani Salusalu who continues to lead an outstanding small team of professionals.
“Like our members and sponsors, they are committed to the implementation of ‘best practice’ in the management of our environment. We work closely with all stakeholders in advancing the goals of the Society”
“Biodiversity, conservation and the tourism sector are closely linked in the Pacific. In a business sense and as commercial stakeholders, we must accept the need to be conscious of and maintain environmental best practices. In the absence of that realisation we greatly jeopardise the attraction we offer our tourists and undermine the sustainability of resources for our community stakeholders,” Mr Shaw added.
MES Project Manager Betani Salusalu said though there’s lot to be done, the future looks bright.
Mr Salusalu said getting ‘new eyes’ for villagers and communities towards the better care of their environment is one of its major challenges.
“Changing the perception of the people needed to happen first before any conservation activity was conducted. The main threat to the pristine Mamanuca environment was the waste from those living on the mainland at the Nadi basin.”
He said threats to the Mamanuca eco-system include thermal pollution, poor waste management and oil spillage to name a few.
“We are a small environment society with big intentions. With our on-going environmental efforts our future remains bright. Since that time, MES has focused its work around five objectives: protecting and enhancing natural areas in the Mamanucas, supporting the region’s conservation efforts, acquiring and sharing knowledge, providing information and raising awareness about the importance of our “natural heritage,” and promoting sustainable use of natural resources,” said Mr Salusalu.
The Society is indeed fortunate to have the support through sponsorship of the following commercial enterprises.
ANZ is one of the largest companies in Australia and New Zealand and a major international banking and financial services group, which is among the top 50 banks in the world. As a leading financial institution in Fiji, ANZ Bank is committed to engaging with communities with the aim to make a difference and help sustain their livelihood.
Air Pacific – Voted three years in a row as the South Pacific’s best airline by Global Traveler magazine, Air Pacific is Fiji’s national carrier. It is 51% owned by Fiji and 46% by Qantas Airways. Air Pacific and its subsidiary domestic/regional airline Pacific Sun, fly more than 500 flights per week carrying 1.1 million passengers internationally to Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, as well as to 10 island destinations domestically. Together, we bring in over 60% of all visitors to Fiji.
AON Risk Services is the multifaceted brokering and risk management services arm of AON Corporation specialising in providing products, services, and solutions to meet the diverse and varied needs of its clients. Risks to businesses are constantly expanding and changing, AON Risk Services can provide the solutions needed to help service the consequence of risk in today’s environment.
Island Brewing Company is a newly established boutique microbrewery producing a handcrafted beer (free of additives and preservatives) brewed naturally using pure Fiji island rainwater. The uniquely designed bottles feature Fiji’s endangered Green Turtle to help raise funds and awareness to support breeding programmes in the Mamanuca’s.
KPMG is a leading provider of professional services including audit, tax and advisory. Their innovative spirit inspires what they do and how they do it, providing valuable benefits for clients, employees and stakeholders. Constantly striving to be better lies at the heart of what makes them different.