Our second community action day with Projects Abroad Fiji involved mangrove reforestation at a local riverbank. The staff and volunteers of Projects Abroad have been busy growing mangrove propagules in recent weeks and they were ready for planting in the wild during our time in Fiji. I have already discussed the importance of mangroves for the health of ocean ecosystems in my previous mangrove blog and we were really excited to be a part of this reforestation day.

Armed with 8000 propagules, plenty of sun cream and enthusiasm, we all set off for the river and took a short boat ride to our destination; a mud/sand bank that was slowly eroding away thanks to its lack of mangroves. We spent the morning at this VERY muddy bank and planted individual propagules 1m apart whilst the tide slowly came in to greet us. It was great fun spending time with the volunteers whilst doing practical conservation work and Nicholas and I planted 650 propagules between us. In total we planted approximately 7000 propagules! It is wonderful to think that in five years those propagules will have grown into fully functional mangroves and will be providing vital stability for the riverbank as well as support/shelter for various species of fish, sharks and other animals.



After our morning of planting, we visited a local village that Projects Abroad regularly work with during their community action days and our hosts provided us with a delicious lunch and kava ceremony. Kava or kava-kava is a western Pacific crop, whose roots are used to produce a drink with sedative and anaesthetic properties. Kava is consumed throughout Pacific Ocean cultures for relaxation, at ceremonies and as a treatment for anxiety. We watched as our hosts mixed the kava root with water and offered coconut shells containing kava for each of us to try. I tried a small amount and can confirm it tastes like mild green tea. Others that drank more kava noticed they had numb tongues!



We returned to base after lunch and spent the afternoon preparing a Fijian ‘lovo’. A lovo is a cooking method which involves cooking all of the food underground and it is used on special occasions. Our lovo contained chickens wrapped in palm leaves, onions and leaves wrapped in foil, fish marinated in coconut and Taro root wrapped in foil. It was fascinating watching the lovo being dug, set on fire and then covered with food once the embers had died down. The food was then covered with layers of palm leaves, earth and sheets. The resulting food later that evening was absolutely delicious and a perfect start to the weekend.