Healthy Mangroves for Healthy Communities
Our aim is to strengthen the coastlines of Fiji through research into mangrove rehabilitation with state-of-the-art technology.
Mangrove forests are a protected and frequently planted natural asset in Fiji. It is valued traditionally for its medicinal properties and has been around for generations. It is a natural structural intervening measure and takes 10 to 15 years to fully grow. The islands of Fiji is fortunate to have 8 plant species with 1 hybrid and over 400 sq km of mangrove forest but 90% of this is on the two main islands with some of the out islands quite vulnerable.
Mangroves might be a sensitive and time consuming solution when compared to sea walls but it has its advantages. The construction of a sea wall provides immediate protection from storm surges but it does not provide nurseries for marine organisms, act as a sink for carbon dioxide and neither does it help in regulating sediments and nutrients, allowing for clearer waters for corals to grow. Replicating mangrove ecosystems with local communities ensures the continuity of the project while the monitoring process allows for new methods of planting and better scenarios or conditions to be identified.
Despite is popularity some communities are yet to realize its full potential. Community vulnerability was recently highlighted again following TC Keni as storm surge resulted in great infrastructure damage and coastal erosion. The South Pacific Flying Labs is eager to identify existing mangrove rehabilitation projects in Fiji and work towards restoring the ones damaged while setting up new nurseries. We are aiming to enable communities which are yet to benefit from mangrove forests and establish mangrove nurseries on site so that replanting can continue for ongoing mangrove forest maintenance. We will map and monitor the growth and health of new and existing mangrove forest with sensors mounted on drones and with field survey.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Suva - City Center, Fiji
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
What makes our solution innovative:
Our solution is innovative as it aims to integrate existing technology like the hyper-spectral imagers, thermal drones and multi-spectral sensors to understand the dynamics of mangrove forests while ensuring their continuity by establishing nurseries and replanting. These technologies will allow us to see beyond the visible spectrum, possibly quantify the health status and create new baseline remote sensing data, something which has not been done in Fiji before.
How technology is integral to our solution:
Technology, particularly GIS, is integral to our solution as it will help us keep track of changes in a more efficient and less time consuming way. We will take into consideration aspects such as soil composition, salinity, plant species and water stress to achieve maximum results by monitoring the dynamics. Planted mangroves locations will be recorded with surveying gear to keep track of lost plants, so that they can be replanted. Monitoring of existing forest will be done by drones periodically with sensors to detect subtle changes
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
- permission for selected sites attained from responsible governing bodies
- Selected sites surveyed and mapped
- successful set up of nurseries at at least 3 sites with a backup nursery on campus.
- community workshop and awareness
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
Significant growth of the mangroves is predicted by the end of the second year thus in the meantime we are hoping to train students from USP’s other member nations on how to run workshops and raise awareness for mangrove rehabilitation. We are hoping to branch out to the islands of Vanuatu since our newest hub is expected to be established there. Mangrove replanting peaked in 2012 in Vanuatu, thus we are hoping to join local organizations to amplify the results.
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
The nurseries will be located at the sites thus the local will have full access to it. The workshops will be conducted to ensure that people are aware of what is being done and can take charge themselves. As for the drones and survey equipment then that stays with the university and the Pacific Flying Labs and is accessible to the community upon request.
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
Currently we are just focused on mangroves which were planted years ago by primary school students near the university. We have been in the initial phase where we are just cleaning, studying and maintaining the existig mangroves without planting any new ones
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
The 3 villages we are aiming in Fiji vary in sizes, with some having 75 households with an average of 4-7 people per households, with approximately 400 to 550 people per village. These numbers are expected to increase in the coming years as we move to Vanuatu for expansion. We will be serving them by creating buffer, an intervening measure, between the land and the sea. This will ensure soil stability, some protection from storm surge in due time and a nursery for marine organisms
How our solution team is organized:Hybrid of For Profit and Nonprofit
How many people work on our solution team:5
How many years we have been working on our solution:Less than 1 year
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
My team members and I are all in the field of Geospatial Science, thus we have a good understanding of GIS technology and analysis methods and experience in precision agriculture mapping with various censors. We have a certified drone pilot with another in training and two locals who understand the Fijian language which will be helpful during workshops and community engagement programs. We have experience as all of our team members have worked on mangroves for more than a year in aspects like monitoring, mapping and so forth.
Our revenue model:
We are positioned for long term sustainability due to the simplicity and effectiveness of our project. It takes less than $1.50 to successfully germinate and plant a mangrove tree, somethings which the local community can fully carry out once the project has been completed successfully. The project is also sustainable because we will be using local products in the planting process. We are aiming to create a barrier for the newly planted mangroves with waster material like tires so that the mangroves get a chance to grow properly in its first two years.
In the coming years we are aiming to expand our project to the islands of Vanuatu, which has only 20.51 sq km of mangrove forests with 16 mangrove plant species. This will be made possible through the Vanuatu Flying Labs which will be our newest hub in the region. We are aiming to engage the students of the universities 12 member nations already enrolled at the university in the planting and mapping process in order to teach them so that they can replicate the process when they go back to their respective islands.
Why we are applying to Solve:
Solve can advance our work by providing financial support for logistics. We possess the man power, license to GIS software and hardware such as drones for the project but we lack finance. Our project is simple where we are aiming to use local materials in the planting process. Almost 90% of Fiji’s mangroves are in the two larger islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, which gets hit by a minimum of two cyclone events between the months of November to April. We plan to focus on outer islands for our rehabilitation program as the main island has received ample attention.
The key barriers for our solution:
Some sites chosen might create conflict as they are too close to airports and other no fly zones. Either special permission can be secured or the site can be changed completely.
Even propagules which have germinated need a stable environment for an ample amount of time for it to take root and become steady. This might be a problem as Fiji’s cyclone season (November - April) is very chaotic.
With the funding we receive, we can set up multiple nurseries at sites just in case one gets damaged.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers:
- Amrita Lal South Pacific Flying Labs - Coordinator