The Drawa project is Fiji’s first independent carbon and conservation project to be endorsed by the national government. It encompasses 4,120 ha of tropical rainforest on Vanua Levu, of which 1,723 ha is eligible for generating 18,800 carbon credits each year by measuring the forests and the emissions reductions which is measured as One tonne of CO2 emissions saved is equal to one ‘carbon credit’. In a first for Fiji, the entrepreneurial Drawa landowners have exchanged logging for conservation. It is truly a game-changer; rather than selling timber, landowners produce and sell carbon credits and maintain the multitude of benefits of keeping their forest intact. The project area straddles Cakaudrove and Macuata provinces in Vanua Levu, Fiji. Eight indigenous (iTaukei) landowning clans (Mataqali) own the Drawa Project Area. Most of the Drawa block is covered by rainforest, with areas in and around the villages used for gardening and horticulture.
The Drawa block rainforests are now protected under customary agreements which is legally protected under a 99-year Conservation Lease. The forest is managed through a conservation management plan. The Drawa project was the recipient of the SPREP-SPC award for Excellence in Implementing Island Ecosystem Management Principles and also the National Winner for the Energy Globe Awards.
The Drawa Cooperative has developed a community development plan to guide investment of project income. However, they have already started to develop some of their projects with impressive results. One such project is a Community Honey Business. This initiative was established as an alternative livelihood activity to complement the income earned from carbon sales. The Cooperative’s beekeeping business provides income-generating opportunities for Drawa women.
The establishment of a suitable business to manage the REDD+ enterprise and the forest-protected area was an essential component to ensure sustainability. Hence, the Co-operative business structure has been identified to be the most suitable that compliments with the way of life of the local communities. The co-operative has a coordinating role and/or advisory role in all aspects of the REDD+ enterprise including selling carbon certificates, promoting the ‘product’, management of the forest-protected area, managing other business incentives such as honey production and managing carbon finance received.