Fiji Forest Conservation
Working with rural communities to educate and implement programs related to reforestation and reducing carbon emissions are some of the assistance provided by the German Agency for International Cooperation. Agency program director and senior adviser Dr. Wulf Killmann said the agency was working with Department of Forestry to ensure the industry’s social and environmental sustainability was viable for the future.
“We have been involved in forestry and land use issues in the region for more than 25 years,” he said. “In 1988 we started our first project with the Fiji Forestry Department and we have been working here since then. We have been supporting the Fiji Government in a number of forestry issues, for example, the Fiji REDD Plus policy, we have supported the review of the Fiji Forest Decree, we are supporting the Fiji REDD Plus Committee and we have also been supporting the development of the Fiji Climate Change Strategy and Policy.”
Killmann said apart from working at the policy level with national leaders, the agency had also introduced its programs to a number of rural communities.
The REDD+, which denotes Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, is a mechanism that is under negotiation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Fiji has been part of this initiative since 2009.
“We are at the ground level. For example, there are three mataqali that we work with from the Yavusa of Emalu in Navosa Province. “We work with different communities on forestry issues particularly reducing emissions from degradation and deforestation.”
The forest on Mataqali Emalu of Yavusa Emalu of the Navosa Province has been selected as a pilot site for the Fiji national REDD+ programme. The Mataqali land covers an area of 7, 347Ha covered predominantly by closed forest with multiple use function. There are also pockets of forests marked for protection due to sloping limitations and soil erodibility.
The forest area is largely untouched and is part of one of the few remaining primary indigenous forests in Fiji. The land is currently uninhabited with most members of the Mataqali Emalu residing in Draubuta village.
The Mataqali Emalu had expressed interest to undertake sustainable forest management (selective harvesting) in their forests. This is the “+ sustainable management of forests” under the UNFCCC REDD+ activity type. The given baseline scenario would be the conventional logging that would take place without this intervention. A forest management plan will be drawn up for the forest.
However, there are many implications in this regard. Given the isolation and lack of access into the area logging companies would have to invest highly to enter the forest. This drawback will be compounded by the decrease volume of timber extracted compared to that obtained through conventional logging. This option therefore, warrants further investigation in terms of feasibility for a logging company.
Another activity option proposed for the Emalu land is forest conservation. This is the “+ conservation of forest carbon stocks” in the UNFCCC REDD+ activity type. The baseline scenario is the conventional logging that has been proposed for the area and the threat from agriculture clearance. Forest conservation does not mean that the mataqali or yavusa members do not have access to the site but would mean that no commercial scale activity with regards to forest removal will take place. A land use plan to better manage activities within the forest will be developed.
He said the issue of forest sustainability involved three aspects which policy makers must always consider:
- We have to look forward and there are three elements of sustainability and those are economics, social and environmental which are closely interlinked.
- We have a tendency as human beings to look at the economic side of things.
- Land use has quite a lot of impacts. We will not be able to have an economic viable future if we do not look at the social and environmental sustainability aspect of it as well.
The agency is also assisting government with similar projects in Labasa and Kadavu.