BAAM, a leading Brisbane ecological consultancy, was recently chosen to carry out a baseline flora and fauna survey for a project in Fiji. The fieldwork, which is nearing completion, included both wet and dry season surveys and was carried out by local personnel but co-ordinated and overseen throughout its progress by BAAM’s ecological consultants in Brisbane.
This study was BAAM’s first venture into the Pacific Basin and posed a number of logistical challenges for both BAAM ecologists and local personnel.
Firstly, BAAM’s ecological consultants had to rapidly familiarise local ecologists with quite specialised survey methodologies and techniques which were to be employed in the study. This was completed in a number of presentations given in Suva late last year.
Secondly, much of the survey terrain could only be negotiated by foot and relied on the efforts of porters to transport the large amount of collecting gear to the scattered survey sites. The landscape and vegetation of the study area varied greatly from the benign disturbed and largely cleared lowlands to the rough, dissected topography of the uplands festooned with tropical rainforest, culminating in high montane peaks supporting cloud forest. Shifting volcanic soils, poorly demarcated tracks and higher than average rainfall made field work both difficult and treacherous.
Thirdly, the scope of the fauna component of the study prescribed that invertebrates, as well as vertebrates, be surveyed. And Fiji has a very large, diverse and incompletely known invertebrate fauna…
To be continued