Supporting rural women, sustainable livelihoods and the conservation of cultural heritage
In Fiji, people and wildlife are inextricably bound together in relationship based on tradition and necessity. This critical linkage is central to WCS’ Fiji Program, which supports ecosystem-based management in the province of on the island of Vanua Levu. This work is informed by extensive scientific assessments as well as incorporating local traditional knowledge within an adaptive management approach. The aim is to enable effective conservation whilst strengthening the culture and livelihoods of communities to ensure their health, prosperity and resilience.
With increasing demand for money, rural communities’ reliance on limited income streams (such as farming or fishing) often leads to unsustainable exploitation of their natural resources. WCS is supporting environmentally-friendly businesses to help diversify and enhance communities’ income streams.
Several alternative livelihood projects were identified as having potential in 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 Bua Province).
This project has sought to empower the women to establish and grow their businesses, generate and invest income in community projects and develop their input in local conservation management.