Loru Rainforest Carbon Project wins prestigious United Nations Equator Award.
A family business on a remote island in Vanuatu has made history by receiving one of the United Nation’s most prestigious awards for their efforts towards ecosystem protection and climate resilience. The business, Ser-Thiac, manages the Loru Forest Carbon Project, the first indigenous-owned certified forest carbon project in the Pacific Islands.
The Loru Project is a flagship project of the Nakau Programme. Nakau assists landowners to conserve forests and sell carbon offsets instead of selling timber. The initiative delivers community economic development while reducing poverty and vulnerability to climate change.
The Loru project has reduced approximately 15,000 tons of CO2 emissions to date and offers a powerful new model for forest carbon projects based on indigenous land rights and stewardship.
“We are so pleased to have this recognition,” says Ser-Thiac family member Serge Warakar, whose land is within the Loru Community Conservation Area, “We have worked for many years to secure and regenerate our forest. The Loru Project has allowed us to earn income while protecting our forest. We have used this income for local employment, investing in agroforestry, paying school fees and to secure our water supply.”
UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner said, “Every day, thousands of local communities and indigenous peoples around the world are implementing innovative nature-based solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The Equator Prize is both a recognition of their exceptional ideas and a way to showcase the power of people and grassroots communities to bring about real change.”
Ser-Thiac was one of 20 winners chosen from over 847 nominations across the globe. The four-stage selection process highlighted community-based approaches that can be replicated and scaled to address our climate crisis. Representatives of Ser-Thiac will travel to New York in September to receive their award.
“By investing the Loru Project, the private sector has shown a desire to support projects that reduce emissions and provide benefits to indigenous communities, states Anjali Nelson, Nakau Programme Co-Founder. “Ser-Thiac are leading in this area and provide inspiration that other communities can follow.”
Ser-Thiac has hosted representatives of other Pacific Island countries who are looking to learn from the Loru Project. The Nakau Programme currently has similar projects underway in Fiji and the Solomon Islands.
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On the 10th of May, eight Fijian clans (mataqalis) will be gathering with Fijian dignitaries to celebrate the country’s first sale of rainforest carbon offsets.
Nestled in the mountains of Vanua Levu is the site of Fiji’s first community-owned rainforest carbon site. Forest dependent locals have collectively agreed to conserve their environment and produce verified carbon offsets rather than sign away their land to logging.
The Drawa Forest Carbon project is part of the regional Nakau Programme and is coordinated within Fiji by local NGO, Live & Learn. Revenue raised through the sale of carbon credits is reinvested into the community through a detailed and independently monitored benefits sharing program. The communities have also elected to invest some of the revenue raised into local honey production, deriving further benefit from the intact, now protected forest.
Aminiasi Vocea from the Drawa community describes the clans coming together to turn down logging contracts; “We have become unified…and there is pride in this decision. This is a decision we made so that our children can have access to the benefits that we grew up with.”
“Through the project, we have come to realise the role our forest plays in the global community and towards climate change,” states Jerry Lotawa from Drawa, “at the end of the day, we want a better future for our children, wherever they go. Given the opportunity to gain from our forest without exploiting it, we will choose it.”
The project has been in development for seven years. Anjali Nelson, from the Nakau Programme describes “This first sale is a momentous and long-awaited occasion for these communities. We are proud to be a part of the first official sale of carbon credits in Fiji and to have demonstrated an ethical, fair-trade styled approach to rainforest carbon management which is leading the way for sustainable financing of conservation and adaptation work in the Pacific.”
Swedish companies ZeroMission and OPUS Bilprovning were the first to purchase Drawa carbon credits. Both companies are environmentally conscious and seek to reduce their impact on the climate. The purchase highlights the critical importance of forests not just locally, but internationally.
Noting Fiji’s role as UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP) presidency for 2018; the event is demonstrative of Fiji’s resolution towards advocacy for mitigation and adaptive solutions at the international arena for climate change negotiations.
For more information
Anjali Nelson – CO-Founder of The Nakau Programme
+61 473 927 211
“We grew up knowing the value of our forests and treasuring our environment. Following a series of training, we have come to realise the role our forest play in the global community and towards climate change. At the end of the day, we want a better future for our children, wherever they go. Given the opportunity to gain from our forest without exploiting it, we will choose it.” Jerry Lotawa - Mataqali Navunicau
Thomas from Opus Bilprovning (an environmentally responsible Swedish business partner) took part in the traditional Sevu Sevu ceremony while visiting the Nakau Drawa forest carbon project in Fiji. Custom practices remain incredibly important to the people of Drawa and are respected through the projects!