A fundraising initiative to donate to three small villages in Fiji during April 2020. We have worked alongside these villages for 10 years and have personally experienced two category five cyclones and a number of category threes on the island. The aftermath is very messy:
£500 towards our £1000 taget
We are still working hard to achieve our target to get the most to the people who need it.
We promote organic farming by helping to spread the word about the dangers of pesticides and the benefits of composting. Partner communities can then make their own informed decisions.
We donate seeds to remote island villages after cyclones.
Organics Simplified, What is Organic Agriculture for us in Fiji and the Pacific?
By the Foundation of Rural Integrated Enterprise & Development.
Tuvu, Kings Rd, Lautoka.
Tel: 6663181 / 7773188
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.friendfiji.com Facebook: Foundation for Rural Enterprises & Development
On all our trips we give you the chance to help us restore coral reefs by planting corals.
Snorkel equipment, gloves and reef shoes are required to collect live but broken coral from the sandy seabed. Once collected and placed in a kayak or similar floating device it is transplanted in secure rock crevices and cracks. It is essential to find areas which the coral root can be plugged firmly into as it can take months for it to take root and the smallest swell can dislodge it.
It has been noted that a coral will 'take hold' in as little as a month and if planted well will has a 90% success rate, conversely, if planted badly there is a 90% death rate.
We coral garden in the shallow reef around northern and eastern Taveuni. The process is simple and effective (if comprehensive training is provided). Whilst gardening it is easy to do damage to living coral with snorkel fins so relatively confident swimmers are needed.
Coral gardening gives reefs a minimum of a 5 year head start to its development or restoration. As it develops the fish populations start to increase rapidly and the whole ocean cycle is enriched. We monitor the reefs and put the developments in our blog.
The latest scientific theory is if a decimated reef is left to its own devices it will take 50 years to establish itself again. Around Taveuni coral gardening has helped the reef re-establish itself in just one year. It is believed that corals send out signals that let other corals know it is safe to live in the area. This image shows an area of the shallow reef which was planted just one month before the photo was taken in late 2011.
We train community members to remove overabundant coral-killing predators and to replant corals broken by careless divers and storms. Healthy coral reefs need clean water low in muddy silt and low in pollution with abundant fish and other animals that in turn keep the corals clean and free of major predator outbreaks.
While coral gardening is useful on degraded reefs, we are very aware that the longer-term solution requires addressing the root causes of decline. Any reef- no matter how healthy, if visited by thousands of tourists annually will decline over time. Coral gardening, if actively applied to such highly-used reefs can help manage the inadvertent damage caused by this.
Fiji hosts some of the most beautiful and diverse reef systems on earth. It is often referred to as the ‘Soft coral capital of the world’. Deep drop-offs, endless hard coral fields and huge channels with strong currents are just some of the underwater landscapes creating a unique experience.
Did you know that two thirds of the earths surface is water and that 80% of life on earth lives in the ocean. For generations coastal communities have depended on coral reefs to supply their primary food source.
Increasing populations in developing countries within which coral reefs often occur, has led to the need for coastal communities to learn about sustainable resource management to ensure the continuation of future harvests.
Billions of dollars are spent each year on recreational fishing trips, hotels, restaurants, and diving tours near reef ecosystems creating livelihoods for an enormous number of people worldwide. Reefs are a natural barrier against waves, storm surge and floods.
There are more species per unit area of coral reef than in any other ecosystem. It is estimated that less than 10% of the Earth’s reef organisms are known to science. Corals may look superficially like plants, but in fact each polyp feeds on passing food parcels floating in the marine plankton.
Coral reefs are being degraded at a rate of 2% a year. About a fifth of the world’s stock has already gone, and nearly half of the remainder is in danger of disappearing within the next 20 years.
There are 109 countries with coral reefs. In 90 of them reefs are being damaged by cruise ship anchors and sewage, by tourists breaking off chunks of coral, and by commercial harvesting for sale to tourists (Earth Portal). Coral reefs are one of our plant’s greatest natural attractions.
Due to their abundance of species and great ecological complexity they are frequently compared to tropical rain forests. But, in terms of sheer abundance of readily observable animal life, even the mighty rain forest takes a back seat.
In the rain forest one must be either lucky or a trained observer to watch many of the animal inhabitants involved in their daily activities. But even a first time snorkeler will be absolutely overwhelmed by the parade of exotic life forms on a coral reef.
We provide an outlet for women to sell their quality handicraft and so creating income generation for womens groups and small, rural communities.
World Fair Trade handicraft is the focus for Island Spirit Fiji as the first World Fair Trade Organisation Member to trade with any Pacific Island country.
In 2015 we become the first ever organization in the world to work in collaboration with Pacific Island producers to enable access to Fair Trade markets such as Oxfam.
This first time for a Fiji-based company, World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) membership, brings a rare and unique opportunity to women’s groups to sell their produce anywhere in the world through Island Spirit’s merchandising arm: ‘Island Spirit Crafts’.
Island Spirit is the latest addition to the long list of World Fair Trade Organizations throughout the globe. They joined to ensure customers of their commitment to Fair Trade practices and are committed to the WFTO principles.
Particularly unique is the trading relationship they have formed with a few small women’s groups on the outer, more remote island in Fiji - Taveuni. The new product line has started with organic, hand-made yoga mats and will soon expand to include jewellery and other household goods.
Karen Mapusua, Coordinator of the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community noted the importance of this certification and the fact it is a first for the Pacific Islands: “For Island Spirit to become a World Fair Trade Organisation is a breakthrough for the Pacific. It is not only opening up market opportunities for the women producers in Taveuni it is also paving the way for other Pacific producer groups to enter the WFTO system.”
The still strong practice of weaving 'loga floor mats' for social purposes such as meal time, social events, and relaxing in the mid-day heat led to the idea that those very same durable mats can be made into a smaller version - the yoga mat.
Says founder of Island Spirit, Kirsty Barnby: "Introducing the idea to make their usual mats but smaller wasn't the problem, the women are so incredibly keen to produce - they're understandable really excited about generating their own income. They’re basically being offered a job out of the blue for doing something they've done for years. Maintaining consistency in size is proving a slight challenge because they use an arms length ‘katu’ instead of measuring tape! But I think it's all a matter of practice with the measuring tape!"
Island Spirit will sell Fair Trade products to maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources. Their Fair Trade ranges are all locally sourced.
The production line uses minimal energy consumption and whenever possible uses solar to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In certain villages which have new solar installations such as the one we recently provided for Vidawa Village, the women can weave at night. It's great for everyone, kids can do their homework, elderly eyes aren’t straining as they drink their traditional root drink 'kava' while playing cards and women can weave away after dark if they choose.
All the current weavers are women located around the 18,000 strong population of Taveuni in Northern Fiji. They are all members of a handicraft co-operative called Taveuni Empowerment for Women which Island Spirit works closely helping with quality management, logistics and financials.
One of the villages, Lavena, takes 1.5 hours by bus to get to from the main town along a bumpy track. It is quite literally at the end of the road which circulates Taveuni. It is so remote the women don't have that many opportunities to better themselves and their families if they want to. The initiative is so important to these groups of hard working ladies. Maria is a weaver in Lavena village: “The alternative income generation gives us choice, choice to spend our own money or even go to weekend or evening workshops - the extra money makes us also feel good, independent and strong”.
Crown of Thorns
Crown of Thorns
Crown of thorns clearance in an applied conservation project which is easy to learn and just takes a little practise to perfect.
Crown-of-thorns are one of the most damaging creatures of tropical coral reefs. They are voracious predators that release the contents of their stomach on to the coral. Digestive juices then liquefy the coral ready for consumption. One Crown-of-thorn can devour 65 sq. ft. of reef per year.
The Crown-of-thorns is the second largest Seastar; the largest is the Sunflower Starfish, it receives its name from the venomous thorns that cover its body. They are endemic to the Red Sea and the Indian and Pacific Ocean and they can be found wherever there are tropical reef systems.
They are almost completely covered in protective venomous spines capable of causing great pain in humans. The most alarming survival mechanism they possess is when they are stressed out; they immediately start their fertilization cycle and simultaneously release a pheromone or chemical hormone that creates a chain reaction with every Crown-of-thorns in the area to trigger their fertilisation mechanisms.
Their venomous spines are not tempting to most predators but there are a few that will take on the Crown-of-thorns. In spite of this, the Giant Triton (a mollusk or snail and the ones that we sometimes use or call a conch which is blown during tiki torch lighting ceremonies). Harlequin Shrimp and some of the larger reef fish like the Humphead Wrasse (rare in Fiji) and sometimes Triggerfish (but they tend to prefer sea urchins as they are easily blown over). No matter how they have appeared an outbreak must be stopped to ensure the survival of the reef.
Achieved So Far
We are constantly clearing the crown f thorns whenever we visit either Beverly Campground in Taveuni. We also clear at the Beach House and other village homestay locations.
It is hard to record the impact of the removal process but our philosophy is 'ever little counts'. We have seen such a devastating coral bleaching epidemic since January 2014 that anything which threatens reef life should be stopped as soon as we can.
Solar lanterns and panels have proven themselves to be the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way to light up villages with no mains electricity in Fiji.
Achieved So Far
1 x solar panel set for Vidawa village hall, Taveuni, Fiji funded by Belmont High School and facilitated by Island Spirit.
20 + D-Light solar lanterns distributed in various villages on Taveuni during every trip we host.
30 + D-Light solar lanterns distributed in various villages on Qamea and Taveuni, funded by Belmont High School and facilitated by Island Spirit.
Fiji – Taveuni and Naigani islands.