Conservation Lease for Kilaka

Oct. 3, 2017, 6 a.m.

Conservation Lease for Kilaka

The I Taukei Land Trust Board has signed onto a lease agreement with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to safeguard and ensure the long-term protection of Kilaka forest in the district of Kubulau, Vanua Levu.

Kubulau comes under the province of Bua and its landowning unit at Kilaka, the mataqali (tribe) Nadicake have agreed to a 99-year lease period.

The mataqali has voluntarily conserved its forest for over a decade and will now be receiving rental payment for the Kilaka Forest Conservation area, which covers 402 hectares of native, near-pristine, highly biodiverse forests.

“This will be the first forest conservation area that will be managed by the community in partnership with WCS, and is a great example of community engagement in forest conservation in Bua Province,” WCS confirmed.

Conservation Lease for Kilaka

Kilaka Forest has been endorsed by the National Protected Areas Committee, with a management plan developed between the WCS and the Mataqali Nadicake launched in November 2016 to assist landowners with the protection of its mature, native trees. These are highly sought by logging companies, sourced for traditional medicines and diverse plant species.

WCS noted that two members of the landowning unit have been trained by the Ministry of Forests and have now become registered forest wardens who are expected to play a key role in ensuring that the management plans’ rules and activities are adhered to, observed and closely monitored.

“The conservation lease signifies a stronger and closer partnership between WCS and the landowning unit Nadicake that holds the tenure for the Kilaka forest,” noted Ruci Lumelume, policy advisor for WCS.

She said the lease agreement would be the first of its kind in Bua Province, giving communities direct involvement in the protection of their forests.

“The conservation lease ensures that the native indigenous species of trees in the forests are protected and maintained, clean water source is also maintained and sedimentation often caused by logging affecting the coastal areas and reefs downstream is minimised and controlled.”

The WCS noted that Fiji was a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

“The Kilaka Forest Conservation Area would contribute to Aichi target 11 to protect at least 17 per cent of terrestrial areas especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.”

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