|Name||Semi Tekivili Sauliga|
|Position||Naitasiri Provincial Conservation Officer|
|Organization||I Taukei Affairs Board|
|Town/Country||Suva, Fiji Island|
|Contact email||[email protected]/ [email protected]|
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I grew up in a small settlement in the District of Dogotuki, in the Province of Macuata, Vanua Levu. Growing up and living in a settlement is like living in a world of your own, not understanding village structures.
How has it influenced what you do?
In Dogotuki, there is an untouched hardwood forest in Fiji owned by a small Mataqali known as Namako. Seeing the rapid destruction of this vegetation through logging is where my interest all started.
Growing up as young man and understanding the importance of forests to human beings. From a very young age, I knew that I have a duty and stewardship role to play to protect our environment.
This became my dream and I continue to pursue it. l engage closely with communities to support them in sustainably managing their natural resources as a local government focal point.
I graduated 7 years ago from the Fiji National University with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Environmental Management.
This is my 5th year as Conservation Officer in the Province of Naitasiri focusing on sustainable natural resources management and climate change. I have supported the establishment of the Yaubula committee at Village level, an effective mechanism where communities make decisions on their natural resources.
What are your hobbies or passion?
My hobbies include physical activity such as volleyball, touch rugby to maintain wellness and health. My passion is in environment management, protection and to provide advice to communities.
My passion is to be a responsible stewardship, and provide advice to youth back home. I am also passionate about raising awareness that conservation and natural resources management is not a single person’s responsibility, but everyone’s responsibility.
Why did you become involved in Ridge to Reef?
Many thanks to Tavenisa Luisa the project manager for Regional International Waters R2R. Tavenisa engaged the Provincial Council. The I Taukei Affairs Board is mandated under I Taukei Affairs Act to ensure the wellbeing and good governance of iTaukei communities. I was able to share some success stories projects currently being implemented in Naitasiri.
As conservation officer, I have been involved in every stage of these projects, ensuring that implementation at community level is delivered on time, and to facilitate the adoption of sustainable action.
What have been your key contributions?
I have been involved since the R2R Project started. Activities along the Waidina R2R catchment include:
- Establishment of Village Yaubula committee to facilitate catchment management;
- Identifying, and establishing community freshwater community – based protected area. This is a traditional vanua taboo, where the power vested under the Vanua. At the moment the Naitasiri Provincial Council is conducting consultations with communities along the Waimanu R2R catchment to develop a freshwater management plan;
- Leading the team consultations and awareness in the Waimanu catchment plan;
- Support the Forest Team, liaise with Turaga ni Koro, to agree on where the trees shouldbe planted.
What have been your key learnings?
- To be a good leader, it is critical that you have space and time and to listen to different people and stakeholder groups to ensure we can all work effectively together;
- Planning is key to ensure we are delivering on time;
- Being open minded, and listen every time to your coworkers, leaders and think critically;
- Due to the COVID 19 Pandemic we have had to roll over acitivities to 2021 to comply with national restriction. Now we are using digital platforms to keep our stakeholders up to date and to maintain engagement.
How will these experiences help you or provide opportunities for you/your community/your country in the future?
A good leader is someone that listens. No one will have all of the right answers, and ultimately you will make better decision as a leader by having diverse views and skills on your team. Being part of the R2R team has taught me a lot.
If you want to build a great team, listen to all their feedback even if it is contrary to your thinking because it’s not about you, it’s about providing the best service and products that make a difference for the community and the people you serve.
I have also learned a lot on digital engagement and serving our communities.
What is a key message you would like to share on the importance of Ridge to Reef for people to know?
Ridge to Reef is a simple and sustainable approach which require unity, compassion, hope and love for our future generation. It considers management from the mountain right down to the sea. The concept helps individual, communities, family and government sustainably steward their environment.
Being involved through community consultation for the past 1 years of R2R projects we realise that we all need to be involved for the R2R approach to work effectively, because of the inter-connectivity of our social and natural environments.