We know that having a connection to nature and the outdoors early in children’s lives makes them think more deeply about their role in helping to protect their surroundings and ultimately our shared planet.
Fijians have a deep rooted connection to land and the environment as an extension of identity. The concept of vanua implies stewardship over land to protect it for the next generation of guardians.
As urban development has continued we have become increasingly disconnected from our vanua. Trips home may be difficult to organise and costly. This has resulted in thousands of school age and young adults in Fiji having experienced little beyond urban centres, such as Suva.
This year, as a result of COVID-19, urban Fijians are being much more conscientious about their spending. Everyone is also trying to support local businesses in a much more deliberate way. The tourism recovery will be long and protracted. In the interim, as a member of the Duavata Sustainable Tourism Collective we want to help support our partner tourism businesses, who already do so much good work, to stay operational and ensure that the amazing experiences on offer to visitors to the country are also accessible to young Fijians.
With NatureFiji-MareqetiViti and our partners in the Duavata Sustainable Tourism Collective we have developed a series of educational conservation experiences that anyone around the world can contribute towards in order to support a Fijian teenager or young adult to connect with nature and ultimately become conservation leaders.
These experiences include learning how to thatch a traditional bure and the importance of soga palm conservation to ensure the continued availability of the resource, learning how to sail a traditional camakau canoe and reconnecting with traditional sailing knowledge, supporting river health monitoring at some of Fiji’s most important biodiversity hotspots, and learning about the importance of wetland conversation by rafting an incredible gorge in one of Fiji’s only formal conservation areas.
We realise that many people have been impacted by the fallout from COVID-19, and we want to be sensitive to that.
However, for those around the world who have not been financially affected and who have a connection to Fiji, we are asking for your help.
Duavata is launching the initiative with a crowdfunding campaign for an initial AUD 16,500. This will provide seed funding for the establishment of the conservation leadership programme, and support a first cohort of young Fijians to engage with and learn about their natural environment, and start on the pathway to becoming conservation leaders.
Everyone that donates will receive photos as a ‘Vinaka vakalevu’ and an e-postcard or video highlighting some of the learning.