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Institutional Strengthening for Sustainable Forestry Management Modernization – Looking Beyond REDD+

Following the REDD+ (Reducing Emission from Deforestation, Forest Degradation and Forest Conservation, Sustainable Management of Forests and Carbon Stock Enhancement) readiness phase which began in Fiji in 2009 is the implementation phase of the Fiji Forestry Emission Reductions (ER) and Enhancing Livelihoods Program in which Fiji signed an agreement on January 28, 2021 with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), a global partnership of the World Bank, of US$12.5 million (approx. FJ$26 million) in results-based payments for increasing carbon sequestration and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Fiji is the first small island developing state to sign an Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) with the World Bank’s FCPF. The agreement will reward efforts of those who choose to participate in reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

REDD+ originated from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and is now clearly covered under the Paris Agreement’s Articles 5 & 6. The Paris Agreement cements the crucial role that forests play in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Member countries within the UNFCCC are also increasingly recognizing this role, including the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector as part of their mitigation efforts in their new or updated NDCs.

The NDCs, which form the backbone of the Paris Agreement, are high-level political commitments made by countries to undertake transformative low-carbon and climate-resilient action and contribute to the global response to climate change.

Forestry officers converged for three days (24-26 May, 2023) in Suva to discuss ways in which to move the forestry sector and industry forward beyond its current practices taking into consideration the global commitments and the introduction of newer technologies. The idea was to take stock of current work and see how transformational changes can be brought about to ensure the forestry sector is responding to the effects of climate change through sustainable forest management practices with the enhanced use of database systems and digital technology.

United States Development Authority (USDA) - Climate Fellow to Fiji Dr Randy Hamilton and USDA Forest Service Colleen Chazz O’Brien who is based in America, facilitated the three-day workshop on institutional strengthening to develop a road map for sustainable forest management transformation for REDD+ and beyond.

Through REDD+ the Fiji Emission Reductions and Enhancing Livelihoods Program (ERP) will end in 2024 allowing Fiji to trade carbon for the first time with the FCPF’s World Bank for USD$5 a ton. Fiji Government will be free to decide beyond 2024 whomever it wishes to trade with at the national level and/or if it will allow Fiji to trade carbon through the involuntary market.

Acting Permanent Secretary, Atelaite Rokosuka said that the bottom-line in all this would be to ensure Fiji gets an attractive carbon trade pricing offer that would maximize returns to resource owners and local communities.

Discussions centered on the formation of the Program Management Unit within the Ministry, the budget that would be needed to ensure the ER Program ends well with reporting and carbon trading in 2024. Mrs Rokosuka said, it is critical that this is relooked at to ensure smooth transition from readiness to implementation stages. The officers discussed on how the traditional product for revenue streams for the Ministry has always been the harvesting and sale of timber and now with climate change and global efforts made to reduce carbon emissions, Fiji has an opportunity to trade carbon that is stored within its forests and trees.

Ms O’Brien said that this was an opportunity to assess the Ministry of Forestry’s capability against its current structures and services provided and to enhance and change the way work is done to ensure efficiency. “For the last three days, the officers have understood that this exercise is not about them doing additional work but being able to tell their story beyond the normal mundane routine of implementing the same services,” she said.

The consensus from the officers was that they wanted to see transformational change and be able to deliver services better and enhance community based sustainable forest management moving forward.

It was identified that the data collection protocols and processes require review and augmentation to accommodate the expanded data needs for REDD+ and will include incorporation of new data suppliers for example local communities involved in afforestation/reforestation activities and reporting of fire impacts, data completeness, quality requirements and timely delivery of data to meet the reporting requirements.

With this in mind, there was consensus from the officers throughout the three days that the way forward would be to document work better and not just through annual reports or monthly updates but through technical documentation like that of the Forest Management Plan proposed for the monitoring, reporting and verification of all forestry services and activities carried out in the different divisions. This type of systematic reporting will in turn assist the Ministry to better report at the global level on carbon emission reduction, the NDCs, the Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDs) and so forth.

There were also discussions on how the REDD+ readiness phase conducted the analysis of drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and potential consequences of forest loss in aggravating the risk of climate change through flash floods, landslides, extreme droughts, bush fires and siltation and loss of topsoil. With the introduction of the ER Program to communities that there will be restoration of habitat protection and improved ecosystem services.

The outcomes of the three-day workshop will be presented to the Ministry of Forestry senior executives in the coming week so that they are able to make the necessary decisions of transformation change but more so with transitioning the work of reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation into the Ministry annual operations work.

Fiji’s Emission Reductions and Enhancing Livelihoods Programme 

Government’s National Development Plan (NDP) 2017-2036 presents a vision to transform Fiji to realise its full potential.  The NDP recognises the need for inclusive socio-economic development based on multisectoral collaboration to find solutions to climate change, environment protection and green growth.

The design of Fiji’s Forestry ER Program activities embraces the above vision for the forest sector, which translates to the goal of pursuing sustainable development and management of Fiji’s forest to realise the full potential of the forest sector through reduction in deforestation and forest degradation, promoting sustainable forest management, conservation, and afforestation and reforestation to contribute to climate mitigation while meeting the demands of timber and non-timber forest products; maintenance of ecosystem services and an increase in the resilience of local communities to the impacts of climate change.

Within the Fiji ER Program, activities identified to have a high carbon emission reduction potential include afforestation / reforestation (mainly on unutilised and degraded grasslands), enrichment planting of poorly stocked and/or degraded commercial plantations, implementation of the Fiji Forest Harvest Code of Practice (FFHCOP) with reduced impact logging (RIL) in active logging sites, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods and protection of indigenous forests under present or potential threat from logging and infrastructure development.

It is anticipated that through integrated land use plans at district level and the reporting reflected in the forest management plans there will be opportunities to promote integrated, collaborative and an interactive consultative approach to planning and decision-making on the suitable use of forest and land resources. In addition, it will allow communities to express their concerns issues and priorities, which are expected to resonate in the agreed and developed land use plans.

The activities within the ER Program are geared towards reducing deforestation and forest degradation, improving emission removals, increasing ecosystem services and building climate resilient communities.

Individuals and organisations, including landowning units, farmers, women, youth, children, private sector, civil society, religious groups, academia and anyone interested in forest conservation, environmental protection and addressing climate change are encouraged to actively participate in Fiji’s Forestry ER Program.

Contact your nearest forestry office and/or your nearest Provincial office for more information.


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