I. The Fiji National REDD+ Programme
The Fiji National REDD+ Programe was established in 2009. The focal agency is the Ministry of Forests which includes a REDD+ Unit. The implementation of the programme is guided by the National REDD+ Steering Committee (NRSC) composed of members from various sectors and agencies. The REDD+ Secretariat supports the NRSC in carrying out its roles. The Ministry of Economy is the national focal point for UNFCCC and lead negotiator at international climate change meetings as well as the lead finance agency. The Ministry of Economy supports the Ministry of Forests in lobbying for Fiji's REDD+ agenda at international meetings and provides relevant policy support with other countries. Both the Ministry of Forests and Ministry of Economy are engaged with REDD+ financing and technical development partners.
Fiji has a forest cover of almost 1.1 million hectares, covering about fifty-six percent of the total land mass. Forest clearance, largely attributed to agriculture, can be observed in parts of Fiji. The country also has large areas of degraded and un-utilized land which has potential for broad reforestation and afforestation activities. Fiji recognised REDD+ as an opportunity to contribute to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the socio-economic status of its forest resource owners and protect its forest ecosystems.
II. Objectives of the Programme
The Fiji National REDD+ Programme aims to implement the National REDD+ Policy. The Fiji REDD+ Policy has the overall objective of enhancing the national forest-based carbon balance by:
i) Supporting and strengthening initiatives that address the drivers of forest-based carbon emissions
ii) Encouraging the drivers of forest-based carbon sinks
III. REDD+ co-benefits
Aside from retaining and enhancing carbon in forested landscapes, the Fiji National REDD+ Programme will also:
i) Contribute to the core forest sector goals as defined in the Fiji Forest Policy including:
a) A transition to sustainable forest management
b) Reducing the loss of forest from the expansion of agricultural lands and other land use change
c) Protecting indigenous forest areas of high cultural, biological diversity, and ecosystem services value
d) Increasing timber production from the plantation sector through afforestation/reforestation of non-forest lands (excludes the conversion of wetlands/peatlands; indigenous palms)
e) Increasing agroforestry activities on non-forest lands (excludes the conversion of wetlands/peatlands; indigenous palms)
f) Assist Fiji achieve its strategic goals in land based development and environmental management
2) Contribute to the Green Growth Framework for Fiji and the National Development Plan by:
a) Promoting the sustainable sourcing and production of forest products (both timber and non-timber products)
b) Promoting sustainable agriculture production and land use development
c) Improve the livelihoods of local communities through initiatives that include Diversifying income generation including establishment of niche markets, Capacity building of local communities on various issues including sustainable practices, good governance, financial management, technical field assistance etc
3) Support the strengthening of good governance structures and institutional strengthening through initiatives that include i) Developing Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) guidelines for Fiji, ii) Strengthening community-based organisations and Civil Society Organisation (CSO) institutions
REDD+ is expected to contribute to multiple benefits and not only emissions reductions. These benefits include poverty alleviation, improved community livelihoods, technology transfer, sustainable use of forest resources, biodiversity conservation, good governance, benefit distribution structures, gender etc.
IV. Emalu REDD+ pilot site
The main Fiji REDD+ pilot site is located on Viti Levu and is one of the largest pieces of land (7,400Ha) to be owned by a single landowning clan (Mataqali). The pilot site was established in 2012 after extensive landowner consultations. Activities in the pilot site have largely been undertaken by local experts including trained forestry officers and resource owners.
Achievements from the pilot site include:
1. Socio-economic and cultural surveys, carbon stock analysis, biodiversity surveys and land use mapping (carried out by a trained multi-sectoral and inter-agency team)
2. Development of a land use plan for areas around the pilot site. The land use plan considers economic, environmental, social and cultural issues. Approach and lessons learnt will be fed into the national land use planning guideline
3. Stratification of indigenous forest and grasslands for more accurate monitoring of forest carbon changes
4. Extensive community awareness-raising programmes on climate change and REDD+
5. Local communities trained on alternative income generating sources such as bee-keeping, improved livestock management and crop diversification. The main purpose of these exercises is to reduce the agriculture clearance pressure on the Emalu forest
6. The Draubuta community nursery was established in 2013 and included training on nursery management. The establishment of the nursery has facilitated tree planting amongst the communities in the area with the availability of tree seedlings
7. Afforestation and reforestation of degraded grasslands began in 2014 and is ongoing. This includes that establishment of agroforestry systems for food security and growing woodlots (for firewood), close to the village. Aside from improving livelihoods these activities also serve to reduce pressure off the Emalu forest
8. Women have been trained to strengthen their socio-economic status and improve personal wellbeing. An evaluation of the trainings revealed a change in mind set amongst the ladies (like more conscious on reducing, reusing and recycling waste, better time management)
9. Local counterparts trained on participatory tools, surveying skills, land use planning and climate change issues. The upskilling of local counterparts will be necessary for upscaling and replication of activities including training on climate change related issues
The pilot site activities are informing the development of national approaches and methodologies to implement REDD+ at both the national and sub-national scale.
V. Measuring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) System and Forest Reference Level
As a major instrument for stopping the trends of deforestation and forest degradation, and at the same time helping communities to improve their livelihoods and economic development, the government of Fiji is getting ready to implement a national program for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). REDD+ will play an important role in Fiji’s development path, as forests hold an important place in the country’s culture, history, environment and economy. Fiji recognizes REDD+ as an important opportunity to contribute towards global climate change mitigation while strengthening the socio-economic situation of its forest resource owners and protect and restore its forest ecosystems.
Fiji has advanced in its national readiness process since the first multi-stakeholder national REDD+ consultations in 2009. The National REDD+ Policy endorsed in 2010 contributes to the national forestry sector goal: “Sustainable management of Fiji’s forests to maintain their natural potential and to achieve greater social, economic and environmental benefits for current and future generations”. The REDD+ Policy also emphasizes safeguards to protect and respect the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples, to ensure the active participation of resource owners, the consideration of gender issues in all phases of decision-making and the protection of natural forests and their ecosystem services.
The implementation of activities for readiness is overseen by the National REDD+ Steering Committee (NRSC). The committee is made up of twenty agencies from various sectors. The Ministry of Forests is the lead implementation agency for REDD+ in the country. The Government of Germany, through the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), has been supporting readiness efforts in the country since 2009. In 2015, Fiji signed a Readiness grant agreement with World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) to receive 3.8 M USD for the implementation of REDD+ readiness in the country.
A major element of the national REDD+ Readiness process is the establishment of forest reference emissions level (FREL)/forest reference level (FRL). Fiji aims at a forest reference level (FRL). The past national forest inventories can provide data and information relevant for establishment of forest reference level.
Fiji has conducted national forest inventories in 1969, 1991 and 2006. However, the parameters for the past forest inventories were changed each time, limiting the comparability of the data. That explains the different results in forest cover analyses which were reported on different occasions limiting the comparability of carbon stock estimates and forest cover over the historical period. Based on the inventory estimates at different periods it is assessed that the emissions from degradation are more than 10 times higher than emissions from deforestation.
During 2010, a system of 100 permanent sample plots (PSP) was established to quantify the biomass growth and change of forests at periodic intervals. The PSPs are measured at two year intervals. The third round of measurements of the PSPS has been initiated in 2015.
As part of the national REDD+ Readiness programme, Fiji will establish a forest reference level for the period 2001 to 2015. Forest cover data and maps available for 2001-2007 and 2007-2012 will be used to quantify the activity data; and the biomass growth data from the permanent sample plots and the national forest inventories is expected to be used for assessing emission factor (EF)/removal factor (RF) estimates for the purpose of establishing the FRL.
The national forest monitoring system (NFMS) that includes a robust MRV is another major priority of national REDD+ policy, which states that:
“The Fiji REDD-Plus Programme will establish a forest carbon measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) capability in line with the latest international good practice guidelines and guidance arising from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change under the recognition that:
a) eligibility for participation in international carbon and climate-related financial instruments is dependent on establishing and maintaining an MRV system and capability for the forest sector at the national and sub-national scale;
b) such an MRV capability will provide benefits to other aspects of forest sector monitoring.”
The MRV system is expected utilize the IPCC 2003 GPG and IPCC 2006 updates for quantification of activity data using the approach 3; and Emission Factors (EF) / Removal Factors (RF) that conform to the IPCC tier 2 / 3. The monitoring will also cover monitoring of biodiversity and socio-economic indicators in order to satisfy multiple national and international reporting requirements.