Saving Paradise – Protecting Pacific Island Forests by Empowering Community Action

Winners of the 2012 Equator Prize accept their awards at a ceremony at Rio+20. © CI/Photo: Kim McCabe

Donor: Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation

Project Impact: The long-term conservation impact of this project will be the protection and enhancement of globally important network of forest IBAs in New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Palau, Cook Islands and Fiji.

Specifically, this project will conserve 58,475 ha of unique and globally important forest habitat through community-driven action across five Pacific countries and eight Important Bird Areas.

It will implement urgent and sustainable conservation actions for at least 20 species threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red ListTM, including: 4 Critically Endangered, 6 Endangered and 10 Vulnerable species of bird, mollusc, amphibian, reptile, and turtle.

Overview: The vast majority of land in the Pacific is traditionally-owned. Local families, tribes and clans decide how their forests are managed in order to provide food, water and medicine essential for their daily needs. It is critical to work with local people to find ways to conserve biodiversity and provide for their immediate livelihood needs.

BirdLife in the Pacific have developed an award-winning approach which has resulted in landowning clans in Fiji declaring their own Community-Based Protected Areas whilst generating new sustainable incomes for themselves. The vision of this project is to establish a network of Local Empowerment Programme Demonstration Sites across the Pacific, and to share lessons with similar groups across the BirdLife Global Partnership.

BirdLife’s approach develops true partnerships with the local communities based on the historical and cultural ties with their land. This model is highly ‘Pacific’ in its approach, which makes it both widely applicable across the region whilst providing valuable lessons for similar groups within the BirdLife family around the globe.

This project works with our Partners in New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Palau, Cook Islands and Fiji. Together they will form a Pacific network of Local Empowerment Programme Demonstration Sites to showcase their approaches, share lessons and replicate their successes.

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