Wednesday 12 August 2015

Massive Progress at Ventura Nursery by Matt John

Since our last update we have been very productive in the mangrove nursery at Ventura apartments. We have flown through all 1200 plastic bottles collected last week; cutting them in half and planting propagules. This brings the amount of mangroves in our nursery to around 10,000; this is incredibly promising and will greatly help reduce our carbon footprint. Work continues on the propagule tables with 18 set up and being used in the nursery allowing us to constantly increase capacity and make use of all available space.

We have separated an estimated 1,500 mangroves at Ventura and know of many more at our other nurseries which are ready to be planted in the rivers and coastal areas. These will be collected by our partners in WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) who will plant them in Suva. In doing so we are helping to create a vital safe haven for juvenile reef fish, sharks, birds and many other animals to live.

New structural supports grounded in concrete have been erected to replace the existing bamboo supports which are showing signs of wear and have needed to be repaired in the past. Hopefully, these will provide a stronger structure which will be more durable.  A useful box has been made to separate the bottle tops and bottoms allowing a smoother and more efficient work flow.   

Mangrove Monday is sometimes very hard, dirty work; especially if it is pouring down with rain. However, this week moral was high as the volunteers recognised the benefit of their hard work and enjoyed revelling in the mud.

Monday 6 July 2015

Mangroves for Fiji Baby!!!!


The past week we've doubled the amount of propagule tables! We've progressed from 6 tables to 12 tables, 9 already installed in our resident mangrove nursery, 3 in the process of being built. This has allowed us to further organize and create more space in our nursery. In doing so, we've been able to develop paths running up and down our nursery, covered in sand to help absorb any excess water. We've also started hacking away at the grass (using machetes, hoes, rakes, shovels; really anything that works) of the newly extended area to be able to plant more propagules. This week, sadly due to a shortage of plastic bottles, we started planting some propagules directly into the ground to prevent them from drying up and dying. We will later transplant them into plastic bottle pots, once we get enough of them- which came much sooner and ampler than expected!

Above; Propaglue tables in the nursery
Below; Planting propagules in the nursery

Over the last week, due to the spread of the word that we would gladly collect any plastic bottles and pay 3 cents per bottle, we've now collected over 1200 plastic bottles. Our fellow neighbours, Uprising Resort, rose up to the occasion and donated 800 plastic bottles. The rest of our bottles came from Vunibau village, where we went on Thursday for our community day. After presenting presentations on plastics, we proceeded to go around the village collecting plastic bottles from homes and picking them up from the ground for around 2 hours. In that time, we amassed 391 bottles! This not only results in a cleaner environment and many propagule pots but also in 11.73 FJD towards the village youth fund.

Above; Plastics collected from Vunibau village 

All this collective work and plastics will keep us very busy and happy saving the environment one mangrove tree at a time! We love Mangroves for Fiji!!!

Sabine Baily, 19, Washington USA

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Another productive week

Being both a long term and repeat volunteer on the Shark Conservation project in Fiji has given me the opportunity to see the evolution of the mangrove aspect of the project. This past Sunday I was able to participate in extending our resident mangrove nursery for the second time. We extended the nursery by 1/3 of its current size increasing the amount of mangroves that we can plant from 10,000 to 15,000. Extending the nursery is a slightly comical task because when you put five twenty-something year olds together and tell them to build an extension to an existing structure, all of them become structural engineers. 

Besides extending the nursery we also started building and implementing propagule tables; 6 to be exact. The top half of the bottles are placed on the tables fitting neatly in the mesh squares whereas the bottom half of the bottles sit underneath the tables. This has allowed us to maximise space in the nursery area meaning potential capacity has doubled from 15,000 to 30,000 propagules once all tables have been constructed. The problem now is that there simply aren't enough plastic bottles but not to worry, we have started spreading the word to local villages that we want their waste plastics and are will to pay 3 cents for each bottle. This will not only supply a small income to local communities but more importantly recycles plastics that would otherwise end up being burned, sent to landfill or end up at sea. 

By Robert Thomas, 21, USA

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Mangrove Day – Monday, May 25, 2015

On May 25, Mangrove Day was a combination of a beach pick up for propagules in the morning and planting and expanding our very own Mangrove nursery at Ventura apartments.

We were picking up live propagules at Uprising Resort beach for about 3 hours filling up bin bags. With a team of about 22 this was highly effective with rough estimates of this pickup of over 5,000 propagules, resulting as one of the best beach pickups we've ever had. In the afternoon we started filling up the empty plastic bottles and planted around 2,000. Thus expanding our nursery from around 5,500 to 7,500. The very exciting thing about this nursery is that there’s room for much, much more. All in all it was one of the most successful Mangrove pick up and planting days we've had in a while.

Mangroves are incredibly important part of conservation of our oceans creatures. Mangroves provide a home and shelter for a big part of ocean juvenile creatures, and if there is a constant decrease in mangrove forests on a global scale, this is a problem for us all. The main steps the Mangrove for Fiji project encounter include; collecting propagules, planting the propagules in a protected garden area, where they can be monitored and nurtured to increase survival rate and the last step planting them in the wild.

By Theo Peeters, England 

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Mangroves for Fiji from a volunteers perspective

The Mangrove for Fiji project, run by Projects Abroad in correlation with the shark conservation project, is a very big and important part of conservation of our oceans creatures. Mangroves create a home and shelter for a big part of the oceans juvenile creatures, and the constant decrease in mangrove forests on a global scale is a problem for us all.

The Mangroves for Fiji project has three main steps; collecting propagules, planting the propagules in a protected garden area, where they can be monitored and nurtured to increase survival rate and the last step planting them in the wild.

A typical mangrove day on the project will start at 9 am. As a group, we will attack the garden. Each person will be given a specific job, which is decided by our staff. There is a number of specific jobs; cutting plastic bottles, filling plastic bottles with nutritious dirt, digging and providing nutritious dirt, placing bottles in/on the ground in squares of one hundred, planting the mangroves in the bottle and watering the plants.

On days where we are in need of propagules, we will as a group go to either a village or a specific beach; here we spent up to 3 hours collecting propagules, and if the collecting is in a village, we will help the local nursery.

Every 2-3 months we will plant the now grown mangroves in the wild. This process is simple; we will go to all our nurseries, where mangroves that show enough maturity will be collected, and brought to a specific location and then planted with one meter distance from each other.

Although mangrove work is not the most popular amongst the volunteers because it is hard work and takes time, many volunteers have described it with the following sentence; “it’s like taking a very long run, it’s tough and it takes time, but the result in the end is visible and a fantastic feeling, especially planting them in the wild”.

I personally have enjoyed seeing the mangrove project expand, especially in the last 2 months. Seeing thousands of plants standing in blocks of hundreds, and knowing that you actually did something to make that happen, is an awesome feeling. Is hard work and some mornings you really don’t want to be in the garden, but the result is something very special.

This week the volunteer team achieved a lot. We not only collected ~3500 propagules from Navua river, but also replaced all the dead propagules in Vunibau village nursery with new live ones and planted an additional 1100, planted 900 propagules in the Ventura nursery, and finally repaired and cleaned up the nursery in Pacific Harbour’s Multi Cultural School and planted an additional 500 propagules there; a successful day all round!!! We now have approximately 10,000 mangrove propagules growing in our nursery areas and this could cover 1 hectare in the wild. 

Until next week when we will make even more progress,

Anders Kallestrup Morgen, 21, Denmark          

Above; Vunibau Village Nursery

Above; Pacific Harbour Multi Cultural School Nursery before. 
Below; Pacific Harbour Multi Cultural School Nursery after.

Above; Ventura Apartment Nursery

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Ventura Apartment Nursery

On the 13th of April we were tasked with expanding our mangrove nursery in the garden. The capacity of our previous nursery was around 3500 mangrove propagules. We’d been given a bunch of bamboo logs for the roof, but there was no specific goal in mind except to expand the nursery. So while the girls began preparing the propagules and the pots for them, the boys started building another roof. In order to do that, we first had to remove all the grass in the area. With help from the locals, we managed to remove pretty much all of it. Then the soil had to be flattened; so a few of us started flattening the soil, while the others brought more dirt to fill the holes. After that, the roof could be built. We quickly measured up the bamboo logs and decided which logs were fit for being pillars, and which were fit for being crossbars. Afterwards, we put the canopy over the bamboo structure, and it was done! While the boys were doing that, the girls had been preparing the propagules and the pots. The pots are basically bottles that have been cut in half and then filled with topsoil; recycling at its best! So after the roof was done, it was time to plant some new propagules! We managed to plant 700 propagules in the time that we had left that afternoon, so we ended up on a total of 4200 propagules, with room for many many more!

Vunibau Village Nursery

On the 31st of March a group of around 16 volunteers from Projects Abroad went to Vunibau village near Pacific Harbour with the aim of repairing the existing mangrove nursery, then collecting and planting as many mangrove propagules as possible.

We arrived at 9:15am and immediately split into 3 groups. The first group was in charge of fixing the mangrove nursery which involved constructing a canopy made of bamboo and green nets. The second group went to collect propagules and soil from the nearby river to prepare for planting. And the other group went through the large pile of plastic bottles sorting out the tops from the bottoms so that we could plant them separately.

After the nursery had been constructed and enough propagules had been collected, we all began to plant the propagules. It was well organized as some people filling the bottles with soil and planting the propagules in them, then others were putting the mangroves in 10x10 squares of 100 and the rest were collecting more soil/propagules when we were running low.

We continued to work until almost midday before we had to head back to the apartments. Our initial goal for the day was to rebuild the nursery and plant 600 propagules. However, we shattered our target by planting 1500 propagules and collecting over 2000 more to take back with us and be planted at a later date. We then watered them thoroughly, said goodbye to the locals and left the village.

A week later, on the 7th of April, we returned to the same village to continue planting propagules. Although it had only been a week, a few of the propagules had already started to sprout leaves and many had grown since we planted them. We picked up where we left off and proceeded to plant 1044 propagules before we ran out of plastic bottles to use. Therefore overall, a group of 16 volunteers planted 2544 mangroves in Vunibau village over a 2 week period.