U.S. Government Grant to Map Fiji’s Threatened Coral Reefs

Lautoka, Fiji – The U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Pacific American Climate Fund (PACAM) has awarded a grant to the University of Fiji to conduct the mapping and monitoring of the reefs surrounding Votua Ba and the Maui Bay on the Fijian island of Viti Levu. The University of Fiji project, Developing Base Maps of Tropical Aquatic Resources in the Pacific, will increase the capacity of the Fijian government and the communities of Votua and Maui Bay to protect their coastal and marine resources for the future. USAID’s $404,729 grant to the University of Fiji is one of the nine grants provided through PACAM to assist Pacific Island communities adapt to the negative impacts of climate change and develop solutions to improve livelihoods, water availability, and ecosystem conservation and management.

The project was launched at an event held at the University of Fiji on April 13, 2015, in the presence of President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and U.S. Ambassador to Fiji, Judith Cefkin. “The American people highly value their relationship with Fiji, and this initiative serves not only to further strengthen that relationship but also to address the common challenge of global climate change,“ said Ambassador Cefkin at the launch ceremony.

With the USAID support, the University of Fiji will develop maps of land and marine habitat, including the processing of large volumes of regional satellite imagery of island territories, and create a robust data processing system to illustrate the human uses and characteristics of global ecosystems, including coral reefs and wetlands. This information will be disseminated to policymakers and the scientific community and made user-friendly and accessible for other organizations and stakeholders. In addition, the University of Fiji will develop new courses or improve already existing ones on marine biology, natural resource management, biodiversity and conservation, and other related fields. The project aims to improve scientific knowledge of the effects of climate change to help develop strategies and policies to protect Fiji’s environment.

The Pacific-American Climate Fund (PACAM) is a grant-making facility funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that assists twelve Pacific island countries to reduce long-term vulnerabilities associated with climate change. PACAM awards grants to civil society organizations in support of climate change adaptation measures and related “co-benefits”, such as livelihoods enhancement, improved health, food security, disaster risk reduction, or sustainable natural resources management.