‘Rework plans, keep mangroves’

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On the left is the development by Nasese waters and on the right is the current mangrove state land that has been leased for 5 years (2018-2023) to a Chinese development company. Picture: SCREENGRAB

The man who conducted the Environmental Impact Assessment on a proposed $600 million hotel-tourism project in Nasese, Suva, says he has told the developers not to cut down the mangroves.

Dr Paulo Vanualailai, the head of Envi-Green Pacific Consultants, said as a result the developers were look at their plans again “and will work their proposed project around it”.

He said he had raised the issue with the Chinese developers when he was commissioned to conduct the EIA.

“I told them there is mangrove vegetation of about 31.5 per cent which is more than a quarter of the land, the brushes 25.5 per cent and thicket cover 3.1 per cent, fruit trees and there were people planting there 2.5 per cent of land area and there are others,” Dr Vanualailai said.

“When I pointed out that the entire mangrove area was 31.5 per cent and queried that this type of activity will be cutting mangrove down, the developers said they would re-design their plan around it, they categorically told me they will not touch the mangrove.”

Dr Vanualailai said the developers pointed out an adjoining gated community development had cut down a lot of mangroves, but he insisted that they not break the rules.

“I have the Environment Department breathing down my neck, they are closely watching everything we do, so I told the developers that what had happened with the gated community project would not be repeated in our project.”

He said a public consultation that was supposed to be held at the Royal British Legion hall in the Domain had been postponed after the property owners claimed there was an issue with their building.

“I am walking a tightrope to ensure that development happens while ensuring environmental concerns are taken into consideration as well.”

Dr Vanualailai said a new date and venue for public consultations would be announced soon.