FIJI is participating at the week-long 11th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP11) starting today in Bucharest, Romania.
A government statement said the Fiji delegation included acting Minister for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment, Timoci Lesi Natuva, permanent secretary for Local Government, Taina Tagicakibau, Nunia Thomas of NatureFiji MareqetiViti and Tavenisa Luisa of the Fiji Environment Department.
The statement said wetlands (mangroves, rivers, lakes and swamps) contributed greatly to the livelihoods of communities and played a major role in Fiji's tourism industry, notably ecotourism. Local Government minister Samuela Saumatua launched the World Wetlands Day and wetland awareness materials at Pacific Harbour in March this year.
Fiji's protected wetland site is the Navua Gorge as a National Wetland Site.
The Department of Environment has established a national framework as a guide to national wetland sites, formulation of wetland policies, monitoring potential impacts to wetland and caring out national awareness campaigns. Fiji became a party to Wetland Ramsar Convention in 2006 and nominated the Upper Navua Conservation Area (UNCA) as the officially designated Ramsar Site.
It is the first and only internationally recognised Ramsar site located in Fiji.
The conservation area cuts a narrow gorge through the province of Serua in central Viti Levu — an area of 615Ha belonging to nine mataqali or clans on a 200 metres stretch of the Upper 24 km Navua River.