With the Project:
An Indigenous Forest Conservation Programme through Payments of Ecosystems Services
The Drawa Forest Conservation Project aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by changing forest management from timber extraction to forest protection. The project provides alternative income opportunities for the indigenous landowners through the sale of certified carbon credits. Furthermore, household participation in beekeeping is supported under a cooperative model. The conservation initiative works towards the conservation of endangered species, diversification of income sources, and increased capability for landowners to operate small enterprises. The project also protects watersheds and maintains healthy river systems that are a high-quality source of drinking water and habitat for aquatic species.
Six communities within the Drawa Block, a forest region in Fiji, rely on their natural resources as a source of livelihood. The forest ecosystem and the rivers provide the communities with timber, medicine, vegetables, and fresh fish. However, the communities were faced with the challenge of very limited income-earning opportunities which plunged them into poverty. Opportunities for economic participation were limited due to the regions’ remoteness from infrastructure and markets as well as lack of business expertise. Despite the high cultural value of forests, signing up for conventional logging with logging companies has been a common way for communities to earn income. Unfortunately, while logging can provide short-term benefits, it is also highly destructive and unsustainable as it degrades the resource base that supports communities in the long term.
The project provides landowners with an opportunity and incentive to conserve their forest while supporting economic and development activities implemented there. The community members receive complementation through the sale of carbon credits generated from the forest conservation. In other words, the project demonstrates that conservation and community development outcomes could be generated through the emerging opportunity of carbon offset markets.
The project has achieved a high profile as a demonstration activity, since it is the first forest carbon project registered in Fiji and the second in the Pacific islands. Landowners have been able to generate over 50,000 carbon credits in the first 3 years of commercial operation and successfully sold 100% of these credits to the private sector at higher than market average prices. The financing model was also highly innovative as a ‘fair trade’ style approach that secured indigenous land and resource rights and returned the majority of benefits to landowners.
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