Mangrove Destruction Stirs Ire

Feb. 20, 2018, 8:43 a.m.

Locals protesting a marina and resort development in Savusavu have accused the developers of destroying mangroves in the area.

Nawi Island Limited is undertaking a marina, resort and spa, private villas, and arrivals jetty on Nawi Island, positioned directly across Savusavu Town’s CBD, on Savusavu Bay.

In a recent statement, the developers claim that over the past couple of weeks, close to 40 per cent of 2-3 meter high grown plans were deliberately vandalized and cut down at a mangrove reserve site it established outside the construction site in 2014 with Year 8 and 8 primary school students in the province.

“Despite this, Nawi is continuing to maintain the plants that are growing and will continue to replant seedlings in the reserve,” the company noted.

However, a statement from the Save Savusavu Bay campaign say the developers themselves were responsible for the destruction of the mangrove reserve.

“Our children and our people in Savusavu did not vandalize any mangrove. Nawi Island Ltd vandalized our mangroves, did not take care of the mangroves that were planted using our children and now blame the locals for vandalizing when questioned by our page and the Environment Ministry. Shame on you all for destroying 10 hectares of our mangroves. Prove us wrong by putting up a photo that shows healthy mangroves growing as part of the rehabilitation plan. Do not shift the blame on the poor who live off this ocean.”

The campaign recently created a petition that has gone viral and says it won’t cooperate with the company for future mangrove planting.

“In future use the Savusavu Town Council, the Environment Ministry, and the Savusavu Chamber of Commerce to help you plant the next 20,000+ mangroves. Do not use our children again. Every mother will challenge you in Savusavu if you do. No school will participate in this hoax anymore. You broke the trust of our poor community and the children.”

A public statement issued by Nawi Island Limited notes, however, that within the approval granted to Nawi is a requirement for a minimum of 10.2 hectares of mangrove to be retained in the foreshore lease area, and the displacement of mangrove applied mainly only to Nawi Island’s marina and resort facilities.

“The Mangrove Conversion Assessment undertaken for the environmental impact assessment (EIA) calculated that is 11 ha of mangrove on Nawi is removed as permitted (retaining 10.2 ha), this would amount to 1 per cent of the mangroves on Savusavu Bay being lost.”

They confirmed that they had cleared approximately 6 ha of mangrove, and that at this point, do not have plans to remove any further significant area of mangrove.

“So in the end Nawi may remove a little more than 0.5 per cent of the mangroves of Savusavu Bay. This is not considered a threat to the mangroves of the bays as an ecological unit. It was approved without conditions in the EIA.”

The company said it was concerned about negative comments from the community on social media and welcomed concerned parties to view consents at the offices of the Savusavu Town Council, Department of Environment and Provincial Council and would do their best to respond.