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Removal of mangroves along Nadi River led to disaster

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, , 2009) - THE removal of mangroves along the Nadi River mouth for the development of hotel resorts and other projects has been identified as a reason for the disastrous effects of the January floods in Nadi.

The comments by the Department of Environment come in the wake of findings in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature report that human-induced changes to the landscape contributed to the floods' drastic effects in low lying areas around Fiji.

Based on this, department director Epeli Nasome called for appropriate consideration of flood mitigation measures by land developers during Environment Impact Assessments (EIA).

"The Nadi River mouth has had extensive areas of its mangroves removed for hotel resorts like the Denarau Island and the Sonaisali Resort," he said.

"New developments are being proposed for the remaining areas.

"These remove the flood-water absorption areas," said Mr Nasome.

He said in upstream areas of Fiji's major rivers where agricultural and forest logging activities took place, authorities like the Agriculture Department and Forestry Department had codes of practice imposed on developers. "However, the policing and monitoring work of their extension officers needs to be strengthened and monitoring work needs to be constantly carried out during the planning, construction and operational stages of the activities to ensure compliance with the codes of practice," he said.

He said an equally important issue was climate change and likely effects.

Mr Nasome said the environment was most stable in its natural state. "This is without man entering it and sticking in a spade or bulldozing it, which loosens the tight hold that soil particles have on each other."

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