Forests of Hope - Pacific
The BirdLife International Forests of Hope programme builds on the successful forest conservation and management programmes throughout the tropics. BirdLife has identified and piloted innovative management, financing and governance systems for forest and biodiversity conservation and restoration. This in turn has generated local and national economic benefits through sustainable development. Ultimately, preserving and restoring native forest is a key mechanism for combating climate change.
To date in the Pacific, the Forests of Hope programme has been focused on two sites in Fiji, Natewa Tunuloa and Nabukelevu IBAs, to protect, reduce the pressures on, and ultimately expand the extent of the current native forest. This has been undertaken in partnership with the local communities through the establishment of Site Support Groups at the sites. Each of these SSGs have been successful in both protecting the current forest and developing alternative livelihoods, thereby reduced the pressure on the forest.
NatureFiji-MareqetiViti, the BirdLife Partner in Fiji, have been working closely with the Governments Forestry Department to turn the national Forestry Policy into action. This involves the establishment of Permanent Forest Estates, to which the landowning representatives have registered their forest estate in return for a part in the governments forest industry. Forest blocks within the PFE may either be Sustainably Managed or given full protection. Establishing the mechanism by which the landowners can achieve this, and the advantages should they do so is a central part of a programme of work that has recently been funded by the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation, BirdLife International Community Conservation Fund and UK Darwin Initiative.
Within those countries in the tropical Pacific with BirdLife partners only New Caledonia has forests that cover a similar extent of land. Expansion of the Forests of Hope programme to that country is a high priority – providing added protection for both the unique forests and the unique forest avifauna of that country. Other tropical Pacific countries with significant patches of rainforest include Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu – while the high plateau in Savaii, Samoa is probably the largest extent of continuous rainforest in Polynesia. Developing links to establish programmes to maintain forest extent in these countries will be a priority over the next few years.