Country Profiles

Fiji - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Fiji consists of more than 300 islands, most of which are volcanic, and about 100 are inhabited, covering a total land area of 18,376 square kilometers. The two largest islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu comprise more than 85% of the total area. Much of Fiji’s biodiversity is unique to Fiji and many species are not found anywhere else in the world. Fifty per cent or more of Fiji’s plants and birds, all 24 palms, 72 of the 76 species of Psychotria, both frogs, over 90% of some insect groups, such as cicadas and marine insects, are all endemic. Fiji’s forest covers 52.6% of Fiji’s landmass, estimated at 1.8 million hectares. Native forests are subdivided into 3 management categories, including preserved forests, protected forests and multiple use forests and over 80% of Fiji’s native forests are communally owned. The total number of vascular plants known is approximately 2,600, of which 1,600 are native and 1,000 introduced. Current best estimates suggest that Fijian flora consists of 310 pteridophytes and at least 2,225 seed plants. Out of a total of 27 reptile species, 12 are endemic. Fiji also has an extensive and high diversity of marine habitats, including estuaries, sea grass, macro-algal assemblages, protected and exposed soft shores, lagoons, coral reefs and slopes. In particular, the country has the third largest area of mangrove within the Pacific Island region (517 sq km). These marine habitats support a rich biodiversity, and a major subsistence and moderate commercial fisheries. However, despite its subsistence, commercial and conservation value, Fiji’s marine biodiversity is not very well known. So far, researchers have identified 1,198 species of fish, 1,056 marine invertebrates and approximately 1,000 coral reefs in Fiji.

Yet the rich biodiversity of the Fiji Islands and the ecosystems supporting it are now at risk. According to present research results, in terms of terrestrial biodiversity, 25% of bird species, 11.7% of mammals, 67% of amphibians, and 11% of reptiles and plants are already threatened or endangered. Marine biodiversity is also declining with 67% of known mammal species threatened or endangered. Most of the natural habitats are also in a degraded status. For instance, there has been a small but steady loss of good arable land to non-agricultural use over the last 30 years and mangroves have often been targeted for reclamation for sugar cane, rice and aquaculture, which has caused loss of fauna and flora biodiversity.

Biodiversity provides a great source of revenues for the economy of the Fiji Islands. Land and marine based natural resources are harvested for exports to improve Fiji’s foreign reserves for national economic development. In particular, the marine species trade industry contributes to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to foreign exchange earnings, and is a direct source of income and livelihood for the local communities. Furthermore, it is a well known fact that mangroves are very productive ecosystems which sustain the livelihood of coastal villagers and fishermen. Another important sector that relies heavily on natural resources is the tourism sector. As a matter of fact, Fiji’s main attraction is its natural environment and pristine marine waters. Fiji’s gross earnings from tourism for the first quarter of 2009 has been estimated at $167.6 million and is currently the main foreign revenue earner for Fiji.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Fiji’s biodiversity is constantly under pressure from all sectors. The main driver of threats to Fiji’s biodiversity is economic development and is mostly human induced. Threats include over-fishing and exploitation, pollution through agricultural and industrial wastes, urbanization, agricultural development and species introduction. Several species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans have notably been introduced into Fiji, mostly for aquaculture, as ornamentals, for sports fishing or biological controls. Finally, unplanned and uncoordinated tourism activities can become a major threat to Fiji’s biodiversity. In particular, habitat destruction in the coastal areas for tourism development is a major threat to Fiji’s biodiversity in the mangrove, estuaries, reef and foreshore ecosystems.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The Fijian NBSAP (FNBSAP) was completed in 1999 and endorsed by Cabinet in 2003, but suffered from a lack of clear demarcation of the roles of the different stakeholders. In 2009, a review of the FNBSAP saw the development of a results framework and implementation framework for the 2010-2014 period, including an annual action plan for priority areas reviewed quarterly, and new annual priorities established in the last quarterly review. The main goal of the FNBSAP is “to conserve and sustainably use Fiji’s terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity and to maintain the ecological processes and systems which are the foundation of national and local development”.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

In terms of protected areas, the country already counts over 100 Locally Managed Marine Protected Areas (LMMAs). Fiji has identified its Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) and Important Bird Areas (IBAs), nationally significant wetland sites, fish aggregation and spawning sites. Ecosystem-based management is more and more used, notably in the Kubulau reserve, and quota systems have been introduced for marine and terrestrial export commodities, as prescribed by CITES and the Endangered and Protected Species Act (2002). Moreover, thriving programs have been set that range from terrestrial ecosystems to marine ecosystems and for which positive outcomes have already been identified by communities. In particular, strict Environment Management and Monitoring Plans have been developed in relation to logging, quarry and sewage treatment plans, mangroves have been replanted in most Pacific Island Countries and the National Turtle Recovery Plan expects sea turtle populations in Fiji to have measurably recovered to levels allowing for sustainable harvesting and traditional use by 2026. Regarding the participation of indigenous populations in biodiversity protection, members of the community at the village level are directly involved in planning and decision-making, collecting data as well as protection of their resources in the Navakavu Clan. The Ministry of Education, through the Culture and Heritage Department, is conducting a survey and mapping of traditional knowledge. Cooperation with individual famers was also carried out to combat pests that are harmful to Fiji. In terms of environmental education, several programs have been carried out in schools, notably by the Mamanuca Environment Society (MES), in order to raise the children’s awareness of their environment. These initiatives have had positive results: there is an increased awareness in adults and children about conserving resources. Finally, enforcement of the Environment Management Act 2005 saw operation compliance, issuing of notification to all commercial buildings and industries on the need to acquire a permit to generate waste.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is one of the most common tools used in Fiji for mainstreaming biodiversity issues. Its utilization is rendered obligatory under the Environment Management Act 2005 which requires that all development will undergo an EIA prior to any development of an area or site. Inclusion of environmental and biodiversity in Fiji’s national and line policies has furthermore seen a number of government agencies working together in conservation programs or on the sustainable use of natural resources. The Departments of Fisheries, Forestry, Agriculture, Tourism and Town Planning along with non-government agencies have collaborated in programs and initiatives such as FLMMA, SOVI basin and Bouma conservation programs in Taveuni and Kubulau.

In terms of financial support, the FNSBAP received funding from various sources, including the GEF Small Grants Programme, PoWPA, the European Union (water management and biofuel projects) and International Labour Organization (training and funding for projects that are environmental friendly, e.g. Molituva project inclusive of piggery, catering and sites attractions for tourists). Finally, the country received active support in the implementation of the national NBSAP from several NGOs, such as the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Monitoring is carried out through programs and institutions such as the Koronivia research station which is responsible for crop and livestock verification and available programs on reproduction for plants and animals and the maintenance of Fiji’s diversity for plants and livestock. Some specific programs have also been carried out, such as Fiji’s Stream Health Monitoring and Assessment Kit for freshwater ecosystems.