Vanuatu Placeholder

Nakau programme: Loru community conservation project

About the Implementing organization

Name: Serthiac

Country: Vanuatu

Year of establishment: 2011

Type of organization: Community enterprise or business / Indigenous group or organization


The initiative is the first within the Nakau Programme, which establishes a commercial conservation platform for the benefit of Indigenous landowners. On the 'supply side' the initiative produces ecosystem services including reduced greenhouse gas emissions. On the 'demand side' the Nakau Programme provides high quality-low risk investments for private and public sector buyers using an annualized, unitized ex post commercial financing instrument, eliminating non-delivery risk. The Nakau Programme 'supply chain,' led initially by the Loru project, is quality assured to international REDD+ standards. Participating communities such as Ser-Thiac shift from activities that clear forest by placing these ecosystems into long-term legal protection. In exchange, project owner communities (who retain legal ownership of the ecosystem) create and sell PES units (conservation credits and carbon offsets) to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and/or donor buyers. The Nakau Programme uses a transparent cost-based pricing model for PES units, based on conservation opportunity costs, measurement, reporting and verification costs, and sales/marketing costs. Participating communities gain the dual benefits of community economic development and ecosystem services delivered by local ecological infrastructure. Participating buyers gain benefits of aligning their brand with three high priority social responsibility outcomes: climate care, poverty alleviation, and biodiversity protection.

Nature Element

Forests / Coasts / Mountains / Wildlife

Type of Action

Protection / Restoration / Sustainable use / Mainstreaming into sectors / Access and benefit sharing / Invasive species / Awareness and education / Advocacy for land & water rights

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Water security / Disaster risk reduction / Peace and security / Climate action

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)


Environmental Impacts

The Loru project establishes a 293 ha legally protected conservation area of remnant tropical rainforest on eastern Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. The conservation area is habitat for the critically endangered Vanuatu Megapode bird (Megapodu freycinet layardi), and critically endangered Coconut Crab (Birgus latro). It is also home to several endemic birds including the Vanuatu Kingfisher (Halycon farquhari), Vanuatu Flycatcher (Neolalage banksiana), Vanuatu Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus tannensis), Vanuatu White-eye (Sosterops flavifrons), Santo Mountain Starling (Aplonis santovestris), Vanuatu Imperial Pigeon (Ducula bakeri), and the Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis).

The Project has reduced 3,052 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually (verified by audit) since January 2013, and will save an estimated 90,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions over the project period. It is demonstrating effective control of invasive merremia vine and facilitating rapid regeneration of disturbed rainforest patches.

Sustainable Development Impacts

The project has made a positive impact to poverty alleviation. To date the project has sold 4,000 carbon credits at a wholesale price of USD $10.22, which provided financial capital, income and employment for Ser-Thiac family members (the landowners). Orders for a further 8,900 credits have been received. Ser-Thiac manages profits through a community benefit account, and has identified investments in improved water and sanitation infrastructure as priorities. At this stage the funds are still being held as savings.

Social capital generated by the project and increased governance and business capacity has led to the creation of two small scale 'spin-off' enterprises; women's cannarium nut business and nursery / seedling sales. This is entirely managed by the local Ser-Thiac enterprise without external support.

A first agroforestry plot (with 2 more in prep) has contributed to increased food security and takes the pressure of the forest land.


The initiative was the first demonstration project in the Nakau Programme, designed from the outset for scalability. Nakau provides a 'grouped project' system allowing new projects to be added with reduced establishment costs. Ser-Thiac could increase project scale by including a methodology to quantify rainforest regeneration (in prep), or increasing size of the conservation area. Other landowners, whom do not need to be geographically connected, can add their forest to the 'project group' and benefit from reduced transaction costs, while remaining autonomous with respect to governance and benefit sharing. Nakau can provide sales and marketing services efficiently to multiple projects.

It is possible to extend the geographical reach of the Programme beyond the Pacific Islands (e.g. into Asia). It may also be possible to extend the scope of the Nakau Programme infrastructure to outcomes other than rainforest protection (e.g. inshore marine protection, riparian enhancement).


The initiative is currently being replicated through the Nakau Programme in Fiji (Drawa Forest Conservation Project) and in the Solomon Islands (Sasaboe Forest Conservation Project). The initiative has facilitated replication by providing internationally validated methodologies developed (covering ecosystem service measurement, governance arrangements, benefit sharing and social safeguards etc), and a range of project development tools.

A challenge faced by the initiative was to keep project transaction costs low to enable a PES financed project to be commercially viable at a scale favourable for ownership by customary landowners. This was achieved by maximising local participation (e.g. in forest inventory methodology) and design of methodologies that can quantify ecosystem services (e.g. carbon credits) using existing capacity. This was achieved.

All projects are owned by local indigenous customary landowners.

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