Conservation International has worked in Fiji for over 15 years to help landowners invest in forest conservation rather than forest destruction.
LEARN MORE: How CI and the FIJI Water Foundation are protecting the Sovi Basin.
In 2007, FIJI Water and CI began an innovative partnership to develop an ambitious multi-benefit carbon offset plan as part of FIJI Water’s Sustainable Growth Initiative.
PROGRESS TO DATE
The Nakavaudra Forest Carbon Project
The Nakavaudra Forest Carbon project was initiated in 2008 by FIJI Water LLC and CI. The project’s main objective is to develop an integrated multiple benefit forest carbon project that would:
- Generate real, measureable and verified offsets to meet FIJI Water’s carbon negative commitments from 2008-2010.
- Create a buffer area around the Nakavaudra Range rainforest to expand critical habitat for endangered species such as the Giant Forest Honeyeater.
- Establish a first of its kind community restoration project that would enable local community landowners the opportunity to participate in the emerging carbon market, and alternative livelihoods through jobs from restoration activities (in the short term) and sustainable harvesting of timber (in the long term).
We are also seeking to integrate other income generation activities such as agroforestry, ecotourism and beekeeping as additional incentives for the communities to participate in this initiative.
The Project Team consists of forestry and carbon experts from CI, community members and government agencies. CI’s office in Fiji oversees the technical, financial and administrative activities for the project. CI Fiji and its partners have facilitated development of the planting model, assisted in the baseline assessment and monitoring of carbon and are readying documentation for third party verification of the project’s multiple benefit design standards and carbon benefits.
An initial 500 community members have been engaged in the project to complete restoration of the degraded grasslands and abandoned sugar cane farms. The local communities carry out the planting and manage the mixed-use forest.
Fiji’s national and municipal agencies offer important expertise in GIS mapping and plantation management. The government agencies involved include the Forestry Department, Agriculture Department and Regional Development Department.
By establishing a multi-stakeholder process for development of the project, CI believes we can help these partners build local capacity in benefitting from the carbon offset mechanism, build support for policy frameworks to ensure offsets rights are maintained, and ensure appropriate management of the site in perpetuity.
Community-based Restoration Plan
Upon consultations with the local communities (the carbon owners), the study team determined that a community-based restoration model would serve as the best way to ensure long term success for this project. The model incorporates planting hardwood timber species (e.g. mahogany, teak) on sites to allow for income generation for the community landowners. Restoration of using native species is conducted on steep slopes.
Orienting the reforestation toward income-generating species provides significant community benefits and secures community support, which is critical for project success. Restoration with these species will also provide soil retention and protect watersheds. The project provides one of the first community-owned activities in Fiji that integrate production of both carbon benefits and community livelihoods.
As of 2011, 426 ha (1.64 sq miles) of degraded lands have been restored.
850 hectares (3.28 sq miles) are expected to be planted by 2014.
Multiple benefits generated by the project will be validated by a third party against the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Standard. The carbon benefits generated by the project over 30 years will be verified against the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).
Forward crediting refers to how companies account for the carbon benefits that their offset project investments will generate over time. Companies can purchase “off-the-shelf” verified carbon credits from an advanced and ongoing offset project (e.g., established renewable energy, methane capture or forestry projects).
Alternatively, they can invest in new projects that will generate offsets over time as the project matures and the carbon benefits accrue (e.g. after the trees are planted and have reached a certain size, or the wind farm construction is finished and the clean energy is supplied to the grid). Forward crediting covers the latter case, where companies support early-stage projects in return for offsets in the future.
If properly managed and communicated, this is a credible approach to offsetting. One advantage of supporting new projects is that they can be highly “additional.” Additionality is one of the most important tenets of a robust offset, since it is important to prove that the climate benefit would not have occurred without the offset investment – i.e. is “additional” to business as usual. At CI, we believe that a major advantage of the forward crediting model is that it provides critical funding to develop the projects upfront – a major barrier for the development of forest carbon projects.