Documenting traditional ecosystem management in Tuvalu

The natural resources of Vaitupu Island in Tuvalu have been managed by the community for centuries.

As part of the CRI programme, Vaitupu recently documented traditional management of resources, in order to understand how they can preserve these resources in future. The Community Resilience Profiles being created as part of CRI help communities document connections across land and sea, as a basis for resilience planning.

In Vaitupu, the cultivation of pulaka pits for food is a strong tradition. Bananas, breadfruit, giant taro and other root crops are grown in local gardens. Surrounding these is the coconut woodland where the community collects coconuts, breadfruit, pandanus, figs and wild vegetables such as birdnest fern.

Crucial to traditional management is an understanding of connections between ecosystems, a core principle of CRI. Vaitupuans take materials from the woodland for compost, use wild seedlings for replanting gardens, and anticipate fish arrivals through the flowering of species in woodlands.

The community also has traditional methods of land and sea management for conservation, where collection of resources in certain areas was disallowed at various times, allowing for regeneration. This traditional, holistic view has been part of the resilience of generations of Tuvaluans, but it is also threatened by the climate and cultural pressures Tuvaluans face.

Documenting this traditional management helps communities participating in CRI with their planning for environmental conservation and food security, as well as contributing to the preservation of local culture.

Climate Resilient Islands is a New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade initiative, implemented by Live & Learn Environmental Education, with funding provided by the New Zealand Government.