Votua Village Biodiversity Studies and Community Education, Fiji
Melanie Sorenson, Education Interpretive Naturalist at the Minnesota Zoo, spent four weeks in Fiji in January 2007 working with Eco-Corps, a local conservation group, assisting in the development of a snorkeling trail through the village marine protected area, and a reef walk tour. She also worked with local villagers helping record flora and fauna and developed a training book for local guides and tourists and interpretive graphics, pamphlets, and field sheets for these projects.
Eco-Corps is a grass-roots level conservation effort based in Votua Village on the southwest coast of Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu. Votua consists of approximately 40 families, dependent on subsistence fishing and farming for their livelihood. Eco-Corps mission is to conserve Fiji’s natural and cultural resources through research, education, and assisting the development of sustainable livelihood opportunities in local communities. This program provides information, and training to assist communities in developing and implementing resource management plans and sustainable economic opportunities. The project includes four conservation areas:
The Minnesota Zoo’s Ulysses S. Seal Conservation Grant Program provided Melanie with $1,000 to cover some of her travel and lodging costs as well as purchase supplies for the interpretive graphics and pamphlets for the eco-tours.