Ministry implements new green system for riverbank stabilisation

FIJI’S Ministry of Waterways and Environment is currently implementing a program on an integrated approach using green technologies for riverbank stabilisation, coastal and environmental protection.

The ministry is using the Vetiver grass system, an internationally proven methodology to deal with riverbank destabilization and related environmental concerns.

According to a media release from Government, it has been established that the amount of erosion reduces by nearly 8-10 times if the Vetiver grass system is utilised.

And while several projects have been piloted in Fiji to alleviate soil erosion problems, the ministry has considered using this system as it can also reduce impacts of contaminated water and improve its quality (through trapping debris, toxic chemicals, sediments, and particles).

“The Ministry has thus considered using this grass system to stabilize our riverbanks and reduce soil erosion,” the release said.

“This would strengthen the Ministry’s resilience to river bank erosion, catchment erosion, and mitigating flood impacts.”

The ministry will commence the River Bank Protection Program using the Vetiver Grass – initially through a pilot project in Tailevu and Nawaka, Nadi.

This will be a community-based project, where affected communities will be empowered to take the lead through Vetiver systems to address river bank erosion at a community level.

The ministry also confirmed that the villagers have shown their enthusiasm for this project.

Soil erosion results in loss of land and these problems increase if there is no effective erosion control in place.

Riverbank erosion is becoming prevalent in Fiji, threatening communities and livelihoods of people living with the riparian zones.

Rivers are dynamic; however, unsustainable land management activities have led to increasing erosion of lands along the river bank.

The ministry has also identified pilot sites for Vetiver System (VS) in Central and Western Fiji.

“A consultation and awareness programme in Nawaka Village at Nadi was undertaken by Josivini Sausauwai- Environment Officer at the Ministry of Waterways and Environment on the use of Vetiver for stabilizing river bank,” the release added.

“The importance of Vetiver, planting methodology and its usefulness was presented to the villagers.

“The villagers expressed their concerns regarding excessive soil erosion and highlighted the loss of arable land over time.

“They also mentioned that the frequency of flooding increased due to the reduced conveyance capacity of the river due to siltation often causing extensive damage to farms, crops, and properties.”

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