UCL News


UCL environmental engineers to advise new Fijian tribe

18 July 2006

Students on the MSc Environmental Systems Engineering (MSc ESE) programme at UCL Civil & Environmental Engineering are to be advisors to a unique environmental project on a Fijian Island.

Voro island

'tribewanted' is looking for 5000 volunteers to spend up to three weeks on a remote uninhabited Fijian island, Vorovoro, constructing an environmentally friendly community. Ben Keene, the project's leader, has taken out a three-year lease on the island and hopes to populate it with volunteers who will develop an innovative infrastructure that will not harm the environment. At the end of the project, the aim is either to transfer the site's management to local people to run as a holiday resort, or to dismantle it completely, leaving behind no environmental footprint. The first volunteers arrive on the island on 1 September 2006.

Dr Sarah Bell, UCL Civil & Environmental Engineering, has been recruited as Environmental Systems Advisor to the project. She is also the coordinator for the department's MSc ESE course, and activities on the island will provide a major opportunity for students to work on a live project. Students will be asked to produce a long-term integrated environmental plan, as well as providing immediate advice via weblogs to the island's inhabitants.

In his weblog, Ben Keene wrote of the partnership with UCL: "We're excited to announce that UCL Environmental Engineering are going to be advising and guiding tribewanted's environmental systems management on Vorovoro. This gives the tribe fantastic access to expertise, knowledge and ideas that will make a real difference to the project in both the short and long-term."

Dr Bell said: "Vorovoro Island is a real opportunity to implement leading-edge environmental practices and leave a legacy of sustainability for the local community. We are looking forward to working with tribe members to design systems which will allow them to tread lightly on the island while enjoying a unique travel experience."

Image: Vorovoro island, Fiji, where the tribe will build their community.