Eplerwood International is working with the nonprofit PERL Network and Symbiosis Resorts to create a new genre of luxury eco-tourism in Fiji which aims to not only tap into the robust tourism market in Fiji, but also provide critically-needed infrastructure and resources for climate resilience research, coral reef conservation, and community-based conservation efforts. Field stations at the Symbiosis Resorts, developed and managed by PERL Network, will monitor pristine coral reef areas and help protect them as a primary goal.
Eplerwood International will support three phases of this project. The first phase has been successfully completed by O’Shannon Burns, who undertook this research for her graduate capstone project for her Master’s Degree in Sustainability from Harvard University’s Extension School. Her final report at Harvard was called both “professional and inspiring” by the leadership in the Sustainability program.
In early 2020, O’Shannon visited Fiji, meeting with key stakeholders in the region and conducting an audit of a potential site for Symbiosis Resorts. The study investigated the potential of an ecotourism and conservation company in Fiji and detailed a recommended business model, expansion plan, and strategic goals for a sustainability management system for Symbiosis. The Symbiosis business model transitions an existing luxury resort into an ecotourism enterprise with community involvement, on-site training, and data management designed to assist management using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Climate change impacts are causing increasing peril for coral reef ecosystems, requiring vigilant science-based monitoring. Burns explains that in the Pacific region, “there are few scientific field stations and few reef systems have been studied extensively.” According to the PERL Network, new field stations in Fiji can guide long-term research and evaluate reef status for the Pacific region to be certain both communities and their coastal zones are as well protected as possible.