Fiji villagers plant mangroves in race against rising seas
On a muddy beach, under the glaring Fijian sun, villagers living on the banks of Laucala Bay in the capital of Suva carefully plant neat rows of mangrove seedlings as holidaymakers and locals swim in the ocean in the distance.
What started as a hobby for Jim Tuimoce and the small Korova community has now become a serious attempt to guard them against the effects of rising seas and protect their way of life.
The Pacific Island nation is seen as particularly vulnerable to climate change, with some of its 300 low-lying islands susceptible to rising seas.
“The land has been washed away over the past 20 years. We plant mangroves here to protect the soil from eroding more,” said Tuimoce, 28, who lives with seven families in this coastal village that still uses traditional canoes to fish.
Global attention on mangroves has grown due to their effectiveness in absorbing atmospheric carbon, one of the main drivers of climate change, as well as sheltering fisheries and protecting against coastal erosion.
Fiji plans to move more than 40 villages to higher ground to escape coastal floods and is also working on ways to help future migrants from other Pacific island nations as sea levels rise, the country’s attorney general said last month.
Worldwide, sea levels have risen 26 cms (10 inches) since the late 19th century, driven up by melting ice and a natural expansion of water in the oceans as they warm, United Nations data show.