Lomani Gau: a community-based resource management system


Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Single site
Country or countries covered Fiji
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

Gau Island, Fiji Islands, Oceania

Gau Island is divided into three administrative units (tikina). These are Sawaieke, which has 8 villages and a settlement, Navukailagi, which has three villages and a settlement and Vanuaso, which has 5 villages and a settlement. Gau Island has a cloud forest in its interior where the endemic indigenous bird Kacau (Fiji Petrel Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi) is found. The forests in Gau Island have never been logged and should be maintained to provide the people with healthy resources such as clear waters, wild food sources and building materials. The villagers in Gau have agreed to protect the cloud forest in the island, the home of the Fiji Petrel.

Gau Island is home to around 3,000 people, all predominantly indigenous. Farming is the main activity. People are rapidly progressing towards their virgin cloud forest that covers the mountainous interior. The villages and settlements are all on the coast, the part of the island where human activities have been most profound. The pressures placed on the use of coastal resources in Gau Island are now felt in the villages and settlements.

The villages in Gau Island are part of the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area network. People have been undertaking marine resources management together with their NGO partners over the last two to three years and want to extend these management activities to their land.

The proposed project activities should enhance the resource management activities in the Island. The people have demonstrated their commitment to the proper use of their natural resources and now need to be introduced to the ultimate stage where the goal is the adoption of sustainable and integrated rural development approaches. The project activities proposed here will take people to the unexplored areas of development planning and governance that are often blamed for the failure of rural development in developing countries.

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

The project goal is to assist people of the 20 villages and settlements in Gau Island in the rehabilitation of coastal habitats and the articulation of sustainable rural development activities in their villages. Training workshops on development planning and governance will be undertaken as part of the project to introduce people to the challenges they face. With other outside experts, the project will work with the villages to determine appropriate courses of action to be taken.

Some of the specific aims of the project include the preservation of the cloud forest in Gau Island, the adoption and use of better land use practices that are consistent with long-term sustainable and integrated management of all resources. A Code of Conduct for the Sustainable Forest and Land Use on Gau Island will be proposed as the basis of rural development on the island. In addition, attempts will be made to introduce alternative sources of livelihood.

The objectives of the proposed project activities are to: 1. Reserve the cloud forests of Gau Island; 2. Promote better land use practices such as reducing hillside cultivation, deforestation, and eradicate indiscriminate burning of coastal slopes amongst the villagers; 3. Rehabilitate degraded coastal habitats; 4. Sustainably use coastal resources and adopt an integrated coastal management approach and search for alternative sources of livelihood.

Mandate for the assessment

People in rural areas are faced with development challenges that they need to adequately and appropriately address. This is crucial because unless these people, who are making resource use decisions everyday, are aware of what is best for them and are well versed with the development challenges they face, they are likely to lose their heritage because they are ill advised and misled by their outside partners.

This project should allow people to make informed decisions regarding their natural resources. It is critical that people adopt an integrated approach to sustainable living. In Gau Island, the villagers are participating in the management of their marine resources and therefore should logically be looking to manage their other resources.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Other (please specify)

Ecosystem Based Management, Participatory Approach, Integrated Resource Management Approach

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

System(s) assessed

  • Marine
  • Coastal
  • Island
  • Inland water
  • Forest and woodland
  • Cultivated/Agricultural land
  • Grassland
  • Mountain
  • Urban

Species groups assessed

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Food
  • Water
  • Medicinal resources
  • Ornamental resources
  • Raw materials


  • Air quality
  • Climate regulation
  • Moderation of extreme events
  • Regulation of water flows
  • Waste treatment
  • Erosion prevention
  • Maintainence of soil fertility

Supporting Services/Functions

  • Nutrient cycling
  • Soil formation and fertility
  • Primary production
  • Life cycle maintenance
  • Maintainence of genetic diversity

Cultural Services

  • Recreation and tourism
  • Aesthetic Enjoyment
  • Inspiration for culture
  • Art and design

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started


Year assessment finished

If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish


Periodicity of assessment

Assessment outputs


Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Mositi Vanuaso

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Modelling
  • Indicators
  • Scenarios
  • Economic valuation
  • Ecosystem mapping
  • Stakeholder consultatios
  • Response options

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

The people of Gau Island are involved in the rehabilitation of coastal habitats and the sustainable development workshops training to formulate land and resource use, management and rehabilitation plans that will be the basis of their integrated resource use and management activities. The project will negotiate with the Gau Islanders a Code of Conduct for the use of their forests and other resources

The project is undertaking undertake resource surveys that will allow the villagers to decide on their own sustainable development options. Experts from the project team will be used to undertake biological and social and economic resources surveys. Some of the activities to be undertaken by the villagers to address the issues associated with the rehabilitation of their coastal habitats include the: use of proper landuse guidelines; planting and management of coastal forests and special habitats; protection of valuable coastal habitats and trees; reduction of deforestation and uncontrolled cutting of trees; reduction of unnecessary burning; reducing farming on hill slopes and protection of water catchments to avoid contamination of drinking water.

The project will provide $20,000 per year to the villages and settlements to help pay for people’s chosen expenses. In most cases, the expenses will be for items that the villagers require as part of their rural development activities but are not able to acquire in the village or island. The community can also be given the funds to support a community initiative if they undertake all the activities that are consistent with the landuse plan they have formulated. The money is an incentive for people to undertake proper landuse and sustainable resource development activities in their villages.

The whole village is involved in the project but the Youths and Women groups will take the lead in villages where they are operating. The project activities will be coordinated through the Island Council where all the villages are represented. In the villages, the decisions of the village will be taken through the Village Councils. The Provincial Government will be involved through their office in the island. Other government officials such as Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries officials will be engaged whenever this is required.

Key stakeholder groups engaged

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process

Less than 10

Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Additional relevant information