Fiji landowners define REDD+ actions for project site

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A consultation workshop on the Emalu Fiji REDD+ pilot site was held at Holiday Inn, Suva on 15 January 2013. Emalu is the Fiji REDD+ Pilot site and is located in the Province of Navosa, in the interior of Viti Levu.Landowners of the Emalu REDD+ pilot site

The consultation workshop brought together all the Emalu mataqali (clan) members and various stakeholders to discuss the implementation of REDD+ requirements in Emalu. More than 50 members of the Emalu mataqali, young and old, came from all over Viti Levu to participate in the one-day workshop. Resource persons came from the Forestry Department, SPC/GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation) Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region (CCCPIR) Programme, the University of the South Pacific’s Institute of Applied Science (IAS), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation – Climate Change Unit, the Department of Agriculture, the Nadroga/Navosa Provincial Office, and Live and Learn Environmental Education.

The Conservator of Forests, Samuela Lagataki, opened the workshop by reminding landowners of the importance of their active involvement in the REDD+ project. He urged the mataqali members to work together with the stakeholders to meet the requirements of the project. These include the protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services, the full and active participation of the mataqali members and their relatives who use the forests, and ensuring security for the long-term implementation of the project. Mr Lagataki also emphasised the importance of forests, not only as carbon pools but also as providers of valuable ecosystem services, such as clean water.

Marika Tuiwawa, Curator of the Regional Herbarium at IAS, said that a biological survey of the Emalu REDD+ pilot indicates that the site hosts some of the richest biodiversity of flora and fauna in Fiji. Some of the species in the site hold very high cultural significance and are extremely rare, not only in Fiji, but globally as well. The onus is on everyone to help protect this rich biodiversity.

Emalu mataqali womenThe group work sessions assessed the obstacles and difficulties in meeting the REDD+ project requirements and defined actions and strategies to address them.

Speaking on behalf of the mataqali, an emotional Mere Ratubasa, who travelled all the way from the Yawasa Islands, expressed gratitude for the support from the National REDD+ Programme. She acknowledged and thanked the organisers for a very informative and constructive workshop. They were greatly enlightened and learnt new things on the status and value of their mataqali forest. She assured the stakeholders that the mataqali would support the implementation of the REDD+ project.

In closing the workshop, the Assistant Provincial Officer, Rusiate Raidaveta, urged the mataqali members to work together in unity and communicate openly, as the progress of the project will depend on this.

The workshop was organised by the SPC/GIZ CCCPIR and the Fiji Forestry Department.

For more information, contact Christine Fung: Christine.fung@giz.de