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Government Praises GIZ for Immeasurable Support to Fiji’s Forestry Sector

Fiji’s forestry sector has for the past four decades, greatly benefitted from the assistance rendered by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). Following 36 years of technical cooperation and partnership with the Ministry of Forestry in Fiji, two GIZ Projects supporting the Ministry are officially wrapping up operations. 

The SPC/GIZ Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Island Programme (CCCPIR) supported the Fiji Ministry of Forestry with the inception of the national REDD+ programme and REDD+ readiness activities since 2009. REDD+ is in the Paris Climate Agreement and stands for: reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries. The GIZ CCCPIR programme wrapped up activities at the end of December 2020 and will officially close at the end of May 2021. 

The second regional GIZ Project supporting Fiji with REDD+ readiness was the SPC/GIZ Regional REDD+ Project that was launched on 9th March 2010 by the Fiji Minister for Forestry, Honourable

Osea Naiqamu. The project officially ended on 31March 2021.

It is well acknowledged that the fight against climate change cannot be won without forests given its important role in absorbing and storing carbon dioxide and in providing valuable ecosystem services to vulnerable communities. The Fiji national REDD+ programme is part of this global fight against climate change. The initiation of REDD+ in Fiji offered another alternative to ensuring the protection of our forests whilst providing for the needs of forest owners and users. At the forefront of the Fiji national REDD+ programme is the aim to strengthen the livelihoods and resilience of Fijian communities. The REDD+ programme recognizes this as essential to ensure the success of any REDD+ activity.

The REDD+ readiness activities undertaken in Fiji, with the support of GIZ, has seen Fiji become the first small islands developing state in the world not only to develop REDD+ policies and to put in place the required instruments for the implementation of REDD+, but to actually sign up for carbon trading.

Whilst officiating at the wrap-up event of the GIZ Regional REDD+ Project at the Grand Pacific Hotel on 29 March, the Acting Minister for Forestry Honourable Semi Koroilavesau highlighted some of the Ministry’s achievements that were made possible through the support of the GIZ projects. These included - 

the setting up and secretariat support of the REDD+ Steering Committee.  This committee has representation of all stakeholders playing a role in decision making for Fiji either as resource owners, CSO’s and NGO’s, private companies and government agencies;

the development of the National REDD+ Policy and drafting of the REDD+ Strategy;

the development of REDD+ awareness and educational materials including in the Vosa vaka Viti language, targeting a broad range of audiences including children, and wide awareness and training programmes to stakeholders, including other government agencies and local communities;

the development and approval of the REDD+ Readiness Program Proposal (RPP) to the WB which saw a funding of more than 5mUSD granted to Fiji and the subsequent advancement towards carbon funding;

the establishment of the Emalu REDD+ Pilot Site in Navosa and the capacity building of local communities to strengthen their livelihoods to ease off the agriculture pressure on, and protect, the Emalu forest – one of Fiji’s most biodiverse and pristine forest;

various technical studies and research, including on forest carbon rights, forest cover change. and impacts of different logging intensities on carbon stocking;

capacity building and upskilling of Ministry of Forestry technical staff and REDD+ partners that included forest carbon measurement, calculations, monitoring and reporting, and forest cover change mapping;

the review of the Fiji Forest Harvesting Code of Practice, trainings in Fiji and abroad on reduced impact logging and the development of diameter limit tables for the sustainable management of Fiji’s native forest;

the development of the Trees of Fiji App; and

the current development of the national afforestation/reforestation guideline. 

In January this year, Fiji became the first small island developing state to sign an Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), a global partnership housed at the World Bank. The 5-year agreement is to the value of upto  approximately FJ$26 million in results-based payments for increasing carbon sequestration and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation under Fiji’s ambitious emission reductions program. This agreement was made possible through GIZ support during the readiness phase.

Running alongside the national REDD+ programme is Fiji’s national tree planting campaign of 30 million trees in 15 years (30M15Y) that was launched by the President His Excellency Major-General Jioji Konrote in January 2019 initially as 4 million trees in 4 years, before the target was increased in September 2020 when the REDD+ programme confirmed that it has identified enough areas to cater for 30 million trees.

The extensive tree planting initiative will contribute towards the fight against climate change, and equally important, will provide Fijian communities with benefits that include food and water security and culturally important goods and services.

Minister Koroilavesau said that, “through the support of the GIZ projects, there were many developments in the areas of sustainable forest management, research on agroforestry systems and sustainable land management.”

“I encourage all project beneficiaries to use the knowledge acquired to continue with forest restoration efforts and conservation for now and into the future. Lessons learnt, successes and achievements should be embodied whilst moving forward.” 

Mr Koroilavesau thanked GIZ for the immeasurable support it provided to the Fijian Government and the forestry sector over the decades. 

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