Supporting rural women, sustainable livelihoods and the conservation ofcultural heritage
In Fiji, people and wildlife are inextricably bound together in arelationship based on tradition and necessity. This critical linkage is centralto WCS’ Fiji Program, which supports ecosystem-based management in the provinceof Bua on the island of Vanua Levu. This work is informed by extensivescientific assessments as well as incorporating local traditional knowledgewithin an adaptive management approach. The aim is to enable effective conservationwhilst strengthening the culture and livelihoods of communities to ensure theirhealth, prosperity and resilience.
With increasing demand for money, rural communities’ reliance on limitedincome streams (such as farming or fishing) often leads to unsustainableexploitation of their natural resources. WCS is supporting environmentally-friendlybusinesses to help diversify and enhance communities’ income streams.
Several alternative livelihood projects were identified as having potentialin this regard. These community-based initiatives were in the formative stages,managed by rural women and involved the production and sale of:
· virgin coconut oil;
· honey; and
· kuta mats (traditionally woven by women in BuaProvince).
This project has sought to empower the women to establish and grow theirbusinesses, generate and invest income in community projects and develop theirinput in local conservation management.