Reduction of deforestation through promotion of sustainable land-use practices, better monitoring and control of harvesting and wild fires
About the Implementing organization
Name: Savannah Farmers Association
Year of establishment: 2005
Type of organization: Community-based association or organization / Legally recognized non-profit status / Community enterprise or business / Indigenous group or organization
Gau Island has a virgin cloud forest in its interior which has never been logged. The same forest provides the people with healthy resources such as clear waters, wild food sources and building materials. The villagers in Gau have agreed to protect their virgin forest as the increasing population continue to expand their farmlands towards their virgin cloud forest that covers the mountainous interior. To prevent the forest from being logged and to avoid large scale encroachment of farming lands the LGI established a network of forest management areas and also a ban on forest fires so that people are not deliberately clearing land for farming on hill slopes etc. The innovative thing about this action is that it involves the establishment of land-use guidelines by the people themselves and that a Code of Practice is adopted whereby everyone follows the protocol and the rules e.g no procurement of logging-related equipment /machines to ensure that there is zero commercial logging on the island. Villagers are harvesting plantation forests and planting sandalwood and timber trees as future sources of income. Pine forests on the island are now being sawn to facilitate the return of wooden building materials. By adopting these guidelines and genuine desire to save their forest, the people are able to preserve and maintain the critical ecosystems services the forest provides them.
Type of Action
Protection / Sustainable use / Pollution prevention, clean up / Awareness and education / Advocacy for land & water rights
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Water security / Health / Climate action
The preservation of the virgin forest on the island allows the people of the island to maintain and to continue enjoying the critical forest ecosystem services that benefit not only this population but also for future generations. The forest is also home to the indigenous bird Kacaunigau (Fiji Petrel, Pseudobulweria MacGillivray) and provides the island’s population with essential environmental services such as clean water, wild food and building materials. Traditional medicine, farming implements and household items are also sourced from the forest. The people of Gau fondly refer to the Rainforest Pharmacy business on their island as they are aware of the potential to establish traditional medicine as a small and local business with the potential to expand.
Sustainable Development Impacts
The people themselves have come to the conclusion that the biggest reason to save their rain forest is the effect deforestation will have on their livelihoods in the end. Increased flooding, lack of quality water and inability to produce their own food and may cause many of the island's population to leave for the mainland.
The governance structure of the Lomani Gau is quite interesting and has indeed provided a best practice for many SGP projects. Taking a different approach, the Lomani Gau ecosystem assessment is an initiative rooted in the empowerment of local people, who are attempting to realise sustainable management of their natural
resources on Gau Island. It recognises that for the approach to work, local communities must take ownership of the initiative and determine its direction. This involves innovative participatory learning and action methods, with collaborative efforts of a network of NGOs, educational institutions, development agencies and government departments supporting the sixteen villages on Gau Island. Regular consultative meetings and workshops are undertaken and villagers identify environmental problems and formulate their own integrated resource management plans, based on traditional practices and local culture.
Through this approach, the Gau people have been given the power and freedom to help themselves, establishing a new environmental ethic, which is diffusing into neighbouring areas and will hopefully set the standards for future generations. “People are learning from each other and are fostering closer social linkages. The whole of Gau Island is today united to make better environmental management the basis for rural development … and addressing the challenges they face.” – Joeli Veitayaki, Coordinator
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