Conserving forests: ‘High integrity carbon projects are important’

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Members of the Drawa Block Forest Community Cooperative. Picture: SUPPLIED

In a bid to assist landowners and communities, representatives of Plan Vivo, an internationally recognised Standard for the Voluntary Carbon Market(VCM), visited Fiji last week.

The Scotland-based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) certifies forest carbon projects that are led by local communities and are proud to certify several forest conservation projects within the Pacific Islands.

Plan Vivo has been running since the mid-1990s and has the longest running Standard in the voluntary carbon market that is recognised for having an ethical and fair-trade approach to carbon projects where communities receive income to protect nature.

Plan Vivo is the only Standard which has a requirement on financial benefits being shared equitably among customary landowners and communities.

It also brings a holistic approach to the Voluntary Carbon Market, with the benefits not just being climate related, but also having a positive impact for both nature and people.

Plan Vivo’s CEO Keith Bohannon said the high integrity carbon projects are of critical importance on how they work.

”We are committed to projects that are led by communities as the custodians of their natural resources and that ensure land and carbon rights remain with Indigenous people and customary landowners,” Mr Bohannon said in a media statement.

“For us, this is not only the right approach, but also the most effective way to deliver a real and lasting impact. Plan Vivo certification provides an opportunity for local communities to protect their forests through sustainable carbon projects as an alternative to logging and landclearing.

“To date, Plan Vivo projects have delivered more than 7 million tonnes of planned CO2 emission reductions.”

Mr Bohannon said the impact of climate change and the importance of protecting and restoring forests and biodiversity has prompted an increased interest in carbon projects within the Pacific region.

“Through this regional visit, Plan Vivo hopes to strengthen understanding and trust in the Voluntary Carbon Market and advocate for community-centred approaches to carbon projects.”

In Fiji, Plan Vivo works closely with the Nakau Programme and Live & Learn Fiji, developing forest protection projects that are designed and implemented by mataqalis.

During their trip, Plan Vivo will be visiting the Drawa Rainforest Project in Vanua Levu, a 10-year long project certified by the Plan Vivo Standard and the result of a partnership formed with the custodians of the land – the Drawa Block Forest Community Cooperative, Live & Learn Fiji, and the Nakau Programme.

The award-winning project has successfully protected 4,120ha of forest and generated more than 100,000 tonnes of verified emissions reductions.

The sale of carbon credits is now a significant income source and has allowed the community to strengthen their resilience to climate change and grow alternative forest enterprises.

Meanwhile Senior REDD+ Project Officer Live and Learn Fiji Beato Dulunaqio said they were honored to welcome the Plan Vivo team to Drawa.

“The Drawa community have committed to conserving the forests for many years and building upon the additional benefits the project provides,” he said.

“It is good for the people of Drawa to meet the representatives from the Plan Vivo Foundation to share their stories and achievements.”

Following the success of the Drawa project, there is now opportunity to replicate other similar projects in Fiji with support from the Fijian Government.

In addititon to their Drawa visit, Plan Vivo will also be meeting with government officials, local NGOs and conservation organisations to share insights about their standard and how it ensures projects are truly community-owned and all the benefits are considered.