Carbon trade pays off

Ecstatic Drawa landowners react after recieving the cheques of their carbon trade proceeds yesterday. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

AFTER waiting for seven years, the people of Drawa in Macuata had a reason to celebrate as they became the first in the country to trade carbon under the voluntary carbon market. The eight landowning units undertaking the project under the “Drawa Block Forest a Community Cooperative” (DBFCC) received a cheque of $20,700 in proceeds from the trade yesterday.

As part of the regional Nakau program and co-ordinated within Fiji by Live and Learn Environmental Education, a non-governmental organisation, this is the first REDD+ carbon trade project to be implemented in Fiji.

Landowners had given up rights to logging timber on 1549.29 hectares of their land in exchange for the opportunity to sell rainforest carbon offsets as a way of generating revenue for local economic development.

Officiating at the handover yesterday, Commissioner Northern Jovesa Vocea commended the efforts and foresight by the eight landowners, adding their conservation efforts would contribute to the country’s efforts to retain its forests. Mr Vocea commended elders for holding fast to their decisions to save their forests for their future generations.

Also speaking at the event, Live and Learn Fiji’s country program manager Doris Susau said their journey with the DBFCC since 2011 had been an inspiring one.

Ms Susau said despite the constraints faced during the procurement of the project’s lease for the conservation area and other bumps, they were glad that landowners remained steadfast to their decision to conserve their forest.

An emotional head of the Navunicau clan Timoci Ratusaka, 87, said he considered himself lucky to witness the handing over of something they had worked hard for in the past seven years.

He said he was proud that the people of Drawa and the surrounding landowning units could see for themselves the benefits of decisions they chose to make in the face of development promises that would have destroyed their forests.

“I hope with all my heart that our people will continue to honour the project and its objectives, which will greatly benefit our future generations,” he said.

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