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Drawa Village Sets Platform For Carbon Trade

With the vision, Sustainable Forests, our Future, the Ministry of Forestry is grateful to its stakeholders, corporate organisations, individuals and communities for their collective efforts in championing this objective.

This week, we highlight the sustainable and conservation efforts of Drawa Village through the Drawa Forest Conservation Project and the Drawa Block. The Drawa Block is located in Central Vanua Levu, within the provinces of Cakaudrove and Macuata and which is made up of mountainous terrain, covered with indigenous old-growth and secondary forest.

Working in partnership with Live and Learn Fiji, the Drawa Forest Conservation Project, with support from the Nakau Programme, addresses climate change mitigation, ecosystems-based adaptation to climate change and rural livelihoods and provides a solution to the challenge of financing long-term maintenance of protected areas.

The Drawa project aims to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by changing forest management from timber extraction to forest protection. The communities within the Drawa block voluntarily gave land for this project almost 20 years ago and making it the first REDD+ carbon trade project to be implemented in Fiji.

Championing the cause for sustainability and conservation, the Drawa landowners gave up their rights to logging timber on 1549.29 hectares of their land in exchange for the opportunity to sell rainforest carbon offsets as a way of generating revenue for local economic development.

In a talanoa session last month at the Grand Pacific Hotel, former school teacher and Drawa Block Forest Community Cooperative (DBFCC) board member, Mr Aminiasi Veisaci reflected on the community experience of the Drawa Project.

“I know our forefathers made the right decision 20 years ago, when they gave some of our land for the Project and I thank our village leaders at the time for their foresight,” Mr Veisaci said.

“Our forests have not been touched since that decision was made to have our village be a model for forest reserve”.

Proving that sustainable forests is definitely for the future, the current generation of Drawa villagers were able to reap the rewards of their forefathers conservation efforts when in May 2018, they became the first village in Fiji to trade carbon under the voluntary carbon market. The eight landowning units received $20,700 in proceeds from the trade. Mr Veisaci said that since 2018, they have continued to been receive payments for eco-system services (PES) for their steadfast efforts in conserving their forests.

In January 2021, Fiji became the first small island developing state (SIDS) to sign an Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF).

FCPF is a global partnership of governments, businesses, civil society, and Indigenous Peoples focused on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, forest carbon stock conservation, the sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries, activities commonly referred to as REDD+.

The FCPF works with 47 developing countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, along with 17 donors that have made contributions and commitments totaling $1.3 billion. The FCPF supports REDD+ efforts through its Readiness and Carbon Funds.

Minister of Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum had signed the landmark agreement with FCPF a global partnership housed at the World Bank, that will unlock up to US$12.5 million (approx. FJ$26 million) in results-based payments for increasing carbon sequestration and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. 

The five-year agreement will reward efforts to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation under Fiji’s ambitious emission reductions programme and both the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Forestry will have lead roles in this initiative.

In signing the agreement, Minister Sayed-Khaiyum said the emission reduction programme area includes over 37,000 hectares spread over 20 districts on the islands of Viti Levu, Vanua Levu and Taveuni, with the potential to expand to other areas that express interest.

“The contracted volume of greenhouse gases that Fiji is expected to sequester from these forest activities in the next five years is 2.5 million tonnes, for which a result-based payment of USD 12.5 million will be paid upon verification by the World Bank,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Typical approaches to forest protection often fail if they do not address the need for income generation that can replace the ‘opportunity cost’ of rejecting unsustainable developments. As part of the Nakau Programme, the Drawa project demonstrates the potential to finance forest protection and all of its associated co-benefits through production and sale of carbon credits.

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