Realizing Fiji's Dream: Working towards Sustainable Forest Management for People, for Nature, Forever

Safeguarding priority forest sites with local community support, Fiji

Donor: Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation

Project Impact: The long-term conservation impact of this project will be the survival of large tracts of native forests throughout Fiji. These unique and threatened woodlands will provide a long-term income base to the Fijian people who will be empowered to protect and sustainably manage them for the benefit of themselves, their children, and Fiji’s endemic and beautiful biodiversity.

Overview: The tropical forests of the Fiji Islands contain the richest natural communities in Oceania. Over 99% of Fiji’s endemic biodiversity is forest-based. These forests are critical for the conservation of Fiji’s unique biodiversity, and provide valuable ecosystem services such as soil conservation, water purification and carbon storage. They are also very important for their deeply rooted traditional social and cultural values. Nearly 90% of Fiji’s land and forests are owned by ‘family clans’ called mataqali. For the forest-owners their forests provide their main source of livelihood.

However, about half of Fiji’s forests have already been lost through clearance for agriculture, unsustainable logging and fire, and, as a result, many of Fiji’s endemic species are threatened, local people’s livelihoods and cultural links with their land are being degraded, and valuable eco-system services are being lost. Therefore, the future of both the people and biodiversity of Fiji depends upon local communities being empowered to effectively manage their remaining precious woodlands in a sustainable way.

Phase One of this project BirdLife and NatureFiji-MareqetiViti raised awareness amongst land-owning clans about their opportunity to conserve over half a million hectares of some of the most bio-diverse habitat in Oceania.

This follow up, Phase Two project is focussing on practical actions which will ensure lasting sustainable forest management and protection in Fiji. This will be achieved by ensuring: long-term management commitments are formed between mataqali and government; local people and future forest managers are empowered to monitor logging activities on their land, and that the eco-system service value of Fiji’s forests are calculated and promoted as a powerful argument for their long-term conservation.