RURAL communities in the Western Division are working with a regional organisation to sustainably maintain their native and plantation forests under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program.
It is hoped that the work facilitated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and government will thwart attempts by unscrupulous loggers to destroy forests and secure funding for the communities involved in the near future.
SPC's Land Use planning and facilitation specialist Christine Fung said by involving landowners in surveys and creating awareness programs, villagers were becoming more aware of the benefits of keeping their forests.
"We have trained land owners in Navosa — our pilot project and they have come on board with this but the threat from loggers continues," she said.
"They continuously approach landowners and offer them money, while under REDD+, the money will come a few years down the line.
"We have calculated that we can save one million tonnes of carbondioxide from this forest which has been identified as one of the most diverse forests in the country."
Ms Fung said the country had a total forest cover of one million hectares and a total forest carbon inventory of 200,000 million tonnes.
REDD+ stands for reducing emissions from deforestation, forest degradation and the plus stands for forest conservation, sustainable management of forest and forest carbon stock enhancement.
"So this is a list of five activities that the country can undertake to participate in a mechanism that is being developed under the framework of the UNFCCC," said Ms Fung.
"Now a country can undertake an activity, for example by reducing emissions from deforestation — this means that a country puts in place policies or actions to prevent deforestation, the removal or conversion of forest to other land use."