The Great Sea Reef, the world’s third-largest barrier reef, lies offshore from the Qumusea District, on the north shore of Vanua Levu Island. Families from four villages and four settlements in the district send their children to the district school. The area surrounding the school and communities is about 70 percent deforested because of yearly brush fires. These fires are taking a toll on the environment of both land and sea, as erosion and sedimentation harm the reef and surrounding waters.
Local leaders wish to educate the community about the damage caused by the fires, and actively involve residents in planting trees and becoming stewards of the forest for the benefit of future generations. Working with the Forestry Department and with funding from the Nukubati Island Resort, they will set up a nursery at the school. The nursery will grow sandalwood trees, among other indigenous species. (Vanua Levu was known as “Sandalwood Island” until logging almost wiped out the species there.) Community members will replant and protect 4,000 acres of forest, with a target of planting 50,000 trees over 20 years. They will be responsible for the trees, and will pledge to not burn or degrade the newly forested area.
In exchange for this reforestation and protection, Seacology is funding construction of a new kindergarten at the Qumusea School site.