DISCUSSIONS on the ownership of carbon emitted from forests were the feature of talks between representatives of government departments, resource owners, non-government organisations and the forest industry at a workshop in Suva last week.
Organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the German Agency for International Co-operation (GIZ) in collaboration with the Fiji Forestry Department and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Carbon Rights and REDD+ was held at the Holiday Inn.
According to a SPC statement, ownership of carbon rights is an important issue for Fiji because of the strong customary land tenure and control of natural resources.
"The owner of the carbon rights will enjoy both benefits and risks: the benefit of the revenues that protecting the forest can generate, but also the risks in the event that the forest resource is lost," the statement said.
"This national level workshop is part of a larger regional study by SPC and GIZ on forest carbon rights and REDD+ in Melanesia, through which the Melanesia countries will be able to share their ideas and views on how carbon rights should be regulated." Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is an international mechanism which provides financial incentives to developing countries for conserving or sustainably managing their forests.
SPC said Fiji was well-advanced in REDD+, having adopted the Fiji REDD-plus policy in February 2011, and was on the way to developing a detailed National REDD+ strategy.
"The purpose of the workshop on 'forest carbon rights and REDD+' was to contribute to this process, by identifying the legal and policy options for clarifying who owns the carbon in the forests," said the statement.