THREE years after setting up a sandalwood nursery, the villagers of Wailevu in Cakaudrove are already reaping the rewards.
Sandalwood scheme co-ordinator Serelini Tucoki said the scheme was earning them money as well as replenishing a diminishing resource in the district of Wailevu.
Mr Tucoki said the area and the coast of Bua used to be rich in sandalwood during the colonial sandalwood trade period.
"We have started a nursery and this has benefited the villagers a lot," he said.
"We began with plants transplanted from Bua to start the nursery and it has grown, we are even selling plants to villages on Taveuni and Koro.
"These do not include the seedlings we sell to resorts and hotels in Savusavu."
Seedlings are sold at $10 a plant, he said.
"We usually earn $500 to $600 from sales. Out of this 10 per cent goes to the co-operative account while the rest comes back to us villagers." They are also learning value-adding by infusing sandalwood into other local cosmetic products to be sold locally.
"We have also learnt from our American Peace Corps volunteer friends that we cannot continue to manipulate our natural resources but instead to look at opportunities like this to earn a living."