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. Alternative income opportunities are provided to 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. Watersheds are protected and healthy river systems are maintained, being 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 are facing very limited income-earning opportunities which have plunged them into poverty. Opportunities for economic participation were limited due to the regions’ remoteness as well as a 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 an income. 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.
Landowners are provided with an opportunity and incentive to conserve their forest while economic and development activities are implemented. 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 of environmental protection, 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 within the first three years of commercial operation and successfully sold 100% of these credits to the private sector at higher than market average prices. The financing model is highly innovative since its ‘fair trade’ approach secures indigenous land and resource rights and returns the majority of benefits to landowners.
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