A long-term investment in education and forests in Fiji
In northern Fiji, a community’s ongoing partnership with Seacology will soon help kids learn valuable computer skills, while protecting important island ecosystems on and offshore.
We began working with the people of Qumusea District, more than a decade ago. In 2012, Seacology funded the construction of a kindergarten for children from four local villages, and the community agreed to protect and restore 4,000 acres of surrounding forest. Frequent brush fires had severely degraded the land.
The fires affected not only the forest and its wildlife, but also the ocean that the watershed drains into. Qumusea sits along the Cakaulevu Reef (or Great Sea Reef), the world’s third-longest barrier reef, and runoff from the burned areas was making its way downstream and polluting the water.
There was enthusiastic local support for the project. Members of the community of all ages got involved, planting thousands of sandalwood and other native trees. A local resort offered funding for a nursery to grow the seedlings. A public education campaign helped residents of the area spot and prevent fires.
There has been a lasting impact. Eleven years later, the forest is thriving and remains well-protected. The kindergarten welcomes dozens of children each year, and the building remains in great condition.
Last month, school leaders asked Seacology to fund a new classroom, which will house computers for the students. Construction plans are already moving forward, and it should be finished this year.
In exchange, the villages’ leaders have pledged to extend their conservation commitment by 20 years, and local teachers, parents, and students are eager to begin a new effort to keep the island healthy. The coastal communities will plant mangroves in key areas in the intertidal zone, to fight erosion and reduce storm damage. Mangroves have a symbiotic relationship with coral reefs, serving as nurseries for many species that move further offshore as they mature, so the coastal reforestation will also bolster the health of the reef ecosystem and the fisheries it supports.
“We love to support communities over the long term,” said Mary Randolph, Seacology’s program manager. “Qumusea has an ongoing commitment to the island’s environment, and Seacology has an ongoing commitment to the villages.”
Both the original project and this year’s expansion were generously supported by the Nu Skin Force For Good Foundation.