Vanuatu is an archipelago of over 80 islands in the South Pacific, with an estimated population in 2012 of 247,300. In 2010, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), national forest cover was 440,000 hectares, equal to 36% of the country’s 1.22 million hectare total land area. Compared to other Pacific Island countries, Vanuatu has a relatively low historical rate of deforestation, with the FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment establishing the national deforestation rate between 1990 and 2000 at zero. However, as the most recent national forest inventory was carried out over two decades ago in the early 1990s, it is widely accepted that robust data for changes in forest cover are not readily available. Although other data sources recognise a loss of 4600 hectares of forest throughout the country between 1990 and 2000.
Despite the low rate of forest loss between the country’s independence in 1980 until 1998, Vanuatu experienced widespread and largely unchecked logging for a lucrative international timber market. This caused extensive degradation of the country’s indigenous forests and at least 40% of the commercial forest area is considered degraded. In 1998, a ban on the export of whole round logs was enacted and the government expelled international loggers, dominated by Malaysian firms, from their operations in the country. As a result there are currently no active industrial logging concessions in Vanuatu and timber extraction continues primarily in the form of small-scale harvesting carried out with the use of mobile sawmills. Although these present a lesser threat compared to their industrial predecessors, harvesting is still reported to exceed the rate of replanting, suggesting there is a need for improved management in the forestry sector.
The predominant drivers of land use change in Vanuatu vary between the country’s many islands. Some areas have undergone large-scale forest clearing for agriculture, namely for coconut plantations and pastures, while in the more remote areas, subsistence activities represent the major threat to forestland; one that is likely to be exacerbated with the growing population. Potential future threats include agro-industrial development, as well as increasing infrastructure and a growing tourism industry. There is also a risk that Vanuatu may experience renewed interest and external pressure for its timber, once resources from the neighbouring Solomon Islands have been exploited.
The REDD+ readiness process in Vanuatu began in 2007 with the establishment of the Vanuatu Carbon Credits Project (VCCP). Since then, driven initially by the VCCP and subsequently by support provided largely from the German Environment Ministry through GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) under a joint regional programme with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Vanuatu has become a participant country of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). Vanuatu’s REDD+ Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) has been developed and accepted by the FCPF Participants Committee, enabling Vanuatu to access up to US$ 3.6 million from the Readiness Fund. The R-PP details how Vanuatu plans to develop its national national REDD+ programme, which is referred to as the “National REDD+ Scheme.
The National Advisory Board on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction (NAB) is the official advisory body for climate change and mitigating the risks of natural disasters. The NAB was established to replace two former agencies: the National Advisory Committee on Climate Change (NACCC) and the National Task Force on Disaster Risk Reduction (NTF), to increase efficiency and reduce duplication in Vanuatu’s climate change response. The NAB is therefore the ultimate authority on climate change policy in Vanuatu. It is comprised of high-level government representatives and is co-chaired by the Directors of the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geo-hazards Department (VMGD) and the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). These two departments are now housed under the Ministry for Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Environment, Energy and Disaster Management (Ministry of Climate Change), within a new government-funded complex built as part of efforts to improve coordination. As the supreme authority on the country’s climate change programme, the NAB is responsible for the overall management and coordination of REDD+.
The Ministry of Climate Change is the country’s national focal point for the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Along with the NAB, it is mandated with coordinating all government and non-governmental initiatives addressing climate change and disaster risk reduction. A small project management unit (PMU) under the NAB (within the VGMD) is also responsible for the management and execution of some programmes and projects. The overall institutional set up is currently undergoing review, in order to assess current capacity and better clarify the roles and responsibilities of government departments in the coordination, management and implementation of the various climate change initiatives underway in Vanuatu.
The National REDD+ Coordinator is located in the Department of Forests (DoF), which is housed within the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB). DoF is responsible for the overall management of Vanuatu’s forests and forestry operations and is the core implementing agency for REDD+. To date, the involvement of other government agencies in the development of REDD+ has been limited. The Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation (DEPC) has joined the planning process, as have other designated members of the National REDD+ Technical Committee (TC), as well as the provincial governments of the major islands of Efate, Santo, Malekula and Tanna. As Vanuatu plans to adopt a multi-sectoral approach to reducing emissions from deforestation, it is expected that these government departments and others will become increasingly involved, ultimately implementing their own REDD+ activities overseen by DoF.
The TC was established in September 2012. It is comprised of representatives from different government agencies, as well as from four civil society organisations (CSOs), including Live and Learn Vanuatu, the Vanuatu Christian Council, Transparency Vanuatu and the Vanuatu Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (VANGO). The TC also includes GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) jointly as a regional partner. Once formally mandated by the NAB, responsibilities can be divided amongst members of the TC and it can assume its role in advising the NAB and providing strategic oversight to the national REDD+ programme. Although represented in the TC, aside from Live and Learn, CSOs have been restricted in their involvement due to poor awareness of REDD+. Increasing the participation of other CSOs has been identified as a priority within the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP).
The National REDD+ Scheme is expected to operate under a jurisdictional approach in which sustainable land use activities are planned and implemented at the provincial or island level. At the sub-national level, provincial REDD+ stakeholder committees are expected to be established to distinguish priority areas for sustainable land use management and for government investment.
As the country proceeds in its preparedness activities, the main issue is that national ownership of the process is increased, while not overstretching the capacity of the different government departments. REDD+ readiness has to date been largely externally driven. It is important that REDD+ has a local champion and that it is supported from high levels within Vanuatu’s government.
Stakeholder engagement and participation
The Vanuatu Carbon Credits Project (VCCP), initiated in 2007, marked the inception of REDD+ in Vanuatu. Phase 1 of the VCCP involved a series of consultations with landowners in local communities to improve understanding of community development and to establish a set of Socio-Economic Good Practice Guidelines for REDD+ activities in the project’s second phase. At the end of Phase 1 in February 2008, a national workshop with key stakeholders was held, initiating Phase 2 of the project. Key stakeholders included members of the former National Advisory Committee on Climate Change (NACCC), members of the VCCP’s International Technical Advisory Team, and representatives from Vanuatu’s private and non-governmental sectors (WEAVER & PHILLIPS, 2008). Throughout 2007, the VCCP also held consultations with representatives from the timber industry to assess the potential for REDD+ activities to be carried out within timber concessions.
The VCCP, in its official capacity, was hindered by a lack of funds throughout its second phase. The Readiness Plan Idea Note (R-PIN) was developed and submitted to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) with relatively low financial support and there was further difficulty in accessing the development grant for the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) from the FCPF. The national process of stakeholder engagement was therefore re-established through the support of GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), whose involvement under their joint regional programme, ‘Climate Protection through Forest Conservation in Pacific Island Countries’, allowed for the continued development of the R-PP. At the start of this programme in June 2011, a national planning workshop was held. One of the main objectives of this meeting was to conduct a comprehensive stakeholder analysis to better understand the different aspects of stakeholder interests, relations and management, regarding those stakeholders viewed as central and on the periphery of REDD+ developments in Vanuatu (SPC-GIZ, 2011). This analysis aimed to inform the future development of REDD+ by highlighting groups considered as important to engage in order to achieve positive outcomes from implementing REDD+ in Vanuatu.
To date, the Department of Forests (DoF) and the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geo-hazards Department (VMGD) have been the main governmental stakeholders in the national process and specifically in the development of the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP). Although involved, other government agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation(DEPC), have played a lesser role. So far, the national REDD+ process has been largely externally-driven, principally by internationally-led donor programmes. As a result, international consultants have often taken a leading role in the development of REDD+. A key priority is therefore ensuring that capacity within the government is supported so as to increase national ownership and support of REDD+.
Live and Learn Environmental Education Vanuatu (LLEE) has been the main non-governmental stakeholder in the REDD+ process. It has been central to stakeholder engagement, public consultation, and education activities on REDD+ and has developed a number of resources to promote understanding of REDD+ among indigenous communities. Due to relatively low awareness and inadequate resources, other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) remain limited in their capacity for participation. However, the R-PP emphasises the importance of increasing the involvement of other civil society organisations, including Transparency Vanuatu and the Vanuatu Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (VANGO), in particular in aspects of the national REDD+ strategy, such as processes supporting increased transparency.
In January 2013, in order to develop the Consultation and Participation Plan of the R-PP, the NGO Live and Learn facilitated focus groups and interviews with rural Ni-Vanuatu communities on the islands of Santo (Sanma province), Efate (Shefa province) and Tanna (Tafea province). This process aimed to achieve better understanding of community perceptions and experiences of past government consultations on land-use issues, in order to inform effective future consultation and participation for REDD+. The main messages to come out of this dialogue were that in the past communities have felt disconnected from policies and activities and that effective communication requires that existing community communication structures must be utilised and strengthened.
Land tenure arrangments and carbon rights
Vanuatu, formerly the New Hebrides, gained independence in 1980. At this time land previously alienated from the Ni-Vanuatu during the Anglo-French Condominium rule was formally restored to its customary owners. The Constitution of 1980 therefore vests all land in Vanuatu in its indigenous custom owners and their descendants, and states that the rules of custom ownership are to form the basis of the ownership and use of land. The majority of land in Vanuatu is therefore under customary ownership, with land generally individually-owned with community members exercising use rights. Customary land rights are therefore perhaps more appropriately considered as land holding rather than ownership rights, as traditional systems in Vanuatu distinguish between ownership and use. The remaining 10% of land, comprising the urban centres of Port Vila and Luganville on the islands of Efate and Espiritu Santo, is under government ownership, however none of this is forested.
Following a long history of land alienation, the process of restoring land to its customary owners after independence has proved complex and land disputes have been common. Disputes over who constitutes the rightful customary owner to land, along with the variable and unwritten nature of customary law make identifying who actually owns a parcel of land problematic. Fundamental differences between statutory and customary law systems make reflecting customary ownership in the national legal framework challenging and as such there is no legal requirement in Vanuatu for the registration of customary ownership. These factors, along with the relatively small size of land parcels held by recognised customary groups, pose problems for the establishment of REDD+ projects of any considerable size and with clearly attributable rights.
In an assessment of forest carbon rights in Vanuatu, several options for allocating forest carbon rights were identified. Vanuatu has a framework for forest carbon rights on leased land, in the form of the Forestry Rights and Timber Registration Harvests Guarantee Act 2000, which includes carbon sequestration rights as a forestry right. However, on unleased land the situation is more complex. Land boundaries are rarely surveyed and are often contested and the options for rural communities to form legally recognised entities capable of addressing forest carbon rights are limited. As the majority of customary land is unleased (89.7%), this has significant implications for the allocation of forest carbon rights to indigenous Ni-Vanuatu communities. One option is to allocate carbon rights to communities through different leasing arrangements, thereby utilising the provisions of the Forestry Rights and Timber Registration Harvests Guarantee Act.
However, in response to the complexities of the tenure system in Vanuatu and the problems associated in particular with establishing REDD+ projects on large areas of land that encompass parcels owned by a variety of customary groups, the government has opted for the establishment of an activity-based national REDD+ scheme rather than one involving numerous projects in distinct areas. In this way, it is expected that the national REDD+ scheme will operate without seeking to establish land registration and will function on the basis of Ni-Vanuatu landholders giving their consent to the REDD+ strategy. The national REDD+ scheme proposes to incentivise sustainable land use activities by rewarding measurable forest carbon changes associated with more sustainable land use in individual jurisdictions. It is hoped that in this way, investing REDD+ funds into sustainable land use activities will allow communities to ultimately reap higher benefits than they potentially would from receiving carbon payments, which in turn may be unlikely due to the complications presented by Vanuatu’s small land areas and problems of land registration.
Despite the fact that direct government support will not be provided for area-based REDD+ projects, the national REDD+ scheme intends to recognise private forest carbon projects that meet their criteria; to be defined by a specifically created Ad-hoc Working Group (AWG) (see: Institutional arrangments. Live and Learn’s REDD+ pilot project is currently the only on-the-ground REDD+ project in Vanuatu. The project is being implemented in an area under the communal ownership of a single clan. The project involves carbon rights remaining with custom landowners managed by a family business, who acts on behalf of the clan concerning the REDD+ project.
All forest land in Vanuatu is customarily-held by Ni-Vanuatu communities. Although the Forestry Act requires the preparation of a Forestry Sector Plan, due to difficulties associated with consulting with custom owners across large forest areas, Vanuatu does not have an area formally established as permanent forest estate (PFE) or production forest.
Although government-owned forest land does not exist in the country, the government is responsible for forest management, in terms of policy, planning, development and protection and through the Forestry Act, regulates the commercial forestry operations. Tree felling, timber extraction and the removal of non-timber forest products for sale by customary owners is regulated by customary owners. Within the government, forestry is the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB). Within the MALFFB, the Department of Forests (DoF) covers the areas of forest research, extension, utilisation and conservation and has overall responsibility for forest administration and management.
Forestry protection in Vanuatu has historically been relatively unsuccessful due to the resistance of customary landholders to grant governmental control for the protection of traditionally owned land. It is against this backdrop that a more participatory approach to environmental protection was initiated. The Environmental Management and Conservation Act 2002 was passed in 2003. This provides for the establishment of Community Conservation Areas (CCAs), which are established to grant legal protection to areas under customary land conservation agreements. The establishment of CCAs involves the development of conservation, protection or management plans with significant involvement of the customary owners and therefore the incorporation of traditional knowledge of resource use and conservation. According to the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO), there are five formally registered forest protected areas covering a total of 8,366 hectares in Vanuatu although there are also dozens of unregistered community and private initiatives. The Department of Forestry works with the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation in the implementation of CCAs.
The establishment of CCAs could help avoid future deforestation and forest degradation, however as such areas are community-led, the government is limited in its power to enforce CCA management and permanence is therefore dependent on community willingness to conserve the area accordingly.
DoF has extension offices in Vanuatu’s main centres and provides technical assistance and support to customary landowners in the use of forest resources, such as in tree planting, sawmill activities and conservation. The involvement of the department in Vanuatu’s more remote areas is however limited, and has meant that in some areas forestry activities are not closely monitored.
Components of REDD+
A national reference emission level/forest reference level (REL/RL) is yet to be established but is planned for as part of implementation of the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP). Vanuatu’s activity-based approach to REDD+, with implementation planned for the provincial and island level, requires the development of subnational RELs aggregated to a national REL (DOF, 2013a). The R-PP specifies that different reference levels will be established for each of the five REDD+ activities: reducing emissions from deforestation; reducing emissions from forest degradation; sustainable management of forests; enhancement of forest carbon stocks; and, conservation of forest carbon stocks (ibid).
There are plans for REL development to follow the Verified Carbon Standard’s (VCS) Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ (JNR) Requirements. Through this approach, activity specific subnational RELs will be developed for Vanuatu’s five largest islands, given their differing contexts of current and potential future forest resource exploitation (DOF, 2013a). These islands are Efate, Erromango, Malekula, and Santo, as selected by the regional GIZ-SPC programme “Climate Protection through Forest Conservation in Pacific Island Countries”, and Tanna, as this has historically shown one of the highest rates of deforestation (SEIFERT-GRANZIN & HECHT, 2012).
It is anticipated that development adjusted RELs accounting for potential future demand for timber and agro-industrial developments will be established. In line with recommendations from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the national REL will take into account non-anthropogenic emissions and removals by excluding emissions caused by natural events (DOF, 2013a). This is of particular importance for Vanuatu given the country’s high susceptibility to natural disturbances.
The Pacific Islands Regional Policy Framework for REDD+ emphasises the importance of safeguards not only to minimise the potential negative impacts and enhance the positive effects of REDD+ implementation, but also to allow for maximum financial return through the verification of REDD+ projects under voluntary standards, such as the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards and Plan Vivo (SPC, 2013). Recently, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has decided to make safeguard reporting a requirement for any flow of REDD+ funds (UNFCCC, 2013). The regional policy framework document identifies the need for transparent governance and recommends that Pacific Island countries should integrate REDD+ with other forest governance programmes such as forest certification schemes and the programme for Forest Governance Integrity in the Asia Pacific (SPC, 2013). Equally important is the need for equitable and transparent benefit sharing systems that will depend in part on clear land and carbon tenure arrangements (ibid).
According to the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP), environmental and social consideration will be integrated into REDD+ through a one-time Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA), which along with the development of a Safeguards Information System (SIS) will form the basis for an Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) (DOF, 2013a). The R-PP plans for the SESA to assess different potential REDD+ strategies in a participatory way that accounts for the daily needs of subsistence Ni-Vanuatu land users (ibid). The SESA will assess the possible impacts of REDD+ and ensure that the safeguards of the World Bank are integrated from the outset. The R-PP proposes a timeline for the SESA. This anticipates that the SESA will be launched in June 2014, with the assessment itself carried out from 2015-2016, followed by preparation of the ESMF from 2017 to 2018 (ibid).
It is expected that one of the Ad-Hoc Thematic Working Groups (AWGs) established by the National REDD+ Technical Committee (TC) will oversee and coordinate the SESA process. Before the Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the SESA can be established, this AWG must be created. The SESA ToRs will include the national REDD+ safeguards policy as well as identify the social and environmental issues associated with the drivers of deforestation. The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility provides guidelines for the preparation of SESA ToRs, however these will have to be adapted specifically for REDD+ implementation in Vanuatu (DOF, 2013a).
Safeguarding indigenous rights is an important aspect of ensuring equitable implementation of REDD+. The context in Vanuatu, where the indigenous Ni-Vanuatu are the majority of the population and are therefore almost exclusively represented within the country’s leadership structure, means that indigenous rights are perhaps less vulnerable to exploitation than in other parts of the world. This is not to say however that local indigenous rights are not at risk. An analysis of national land leasing data, for example, shows that the Government through the Minister of Lands has commonly and increasingly granted leases for disputed customary land since independence (SCOTT ET AL., 2012). Furthermore rural land dealings are often agreed by village chiefs, on behalf of the customary group, along with local but non-indigenous investors (MCDONNELL, 2013). These examples demonstrate that local community rights are not necessarily safeguarded in Vanuatu, especially in areas where customary rights are not clearly defined.
It is therefore important that subnational REDD+ activities are implemented with the significant involvement of local communities to ensure that REDD+ is fully supported and therefore effective, and that communities are able to feel the maximum possible benefits of REDD+. It is also important that gender considerations are integrated into planning and implementation of REDD+ activities. Although women represent the primary decision makers when it comes to subsistence agriculture, they have historically been marginalised from land use decisions (NELSON ET AL., 2013). The Extension and Outreach programme of the R-PP’s Consultation and Participation Plan aims to pay particular attention to ensuring that women play a more prominent role in REDD+ readiness.
Due to the complex land tenure system in Vanuatu in which individuals typically hold the ownership rights to land, with the wider community exercising use rights, it is important that REDD+ implementation is done in such a way that ensures the wider community benefits from REDD+ incentives. One way in which the national REDD+ scheme plans to promote equitable REDD+ is by awarding REDD+ incentives, which may be payments or in kind benefits, to associations of farmers or community groups. It is expected that these may then be reinvested to support the sustainable land use activities of these groups. However, past experiences have shown the importance of ensuring that community expectations for such benefits are not unduly raised.
In response to the potential of disputes occurring upon implementation of the R-PP and the national REDD+ scheme more broadly, the R-PP identifies the need to develop a Feedback and Grievance Redress Mechanism (FGRM) (DOF, 2013a). Existing programmes in Vanuatu could provide valuable lessons for REDD+. The Jastis Blong Evriwan (Justice for the Poor) programme implemented by the World Bank, and the Australian Agency for International Development’s (AusAID) Mama Graon land programme both have extensive experience working on land issues in the country and could therefore provide a means for the communication and feedback of REDD+ grievance procedures (DOF, 2013a).
With regards to environmental safeguards, Vanuatu’s Environmental Management and Conservation Act of 2002 requires that activities that are likely to “cause significant environmental, social and or custom impacts”, including that “affect important custom resources” or “affect any protected, rare, threatened or endangered species” are subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (REPUBLIC OF VANUATU, 2002). Accompanying Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations were endorsed in 2012. The R-PP recognises that the Act and the associated Regulations have so far been inadequate in improving environmental planning in Vanuatu, however it is hoped that the SESA will contribute to raising public awareness and facilitate implementation of the provisions of this legislation (DOF, 2013a).
Vanuatu is a Party to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (CBD, n.d.) and therefore there are a number of initiatives aimed at biodiversity conservation. The increased involvement of the institutions involved in these programmes in REDD+ could have positive impacts for the establishment of environmental safeguards and the achievement of environmental co-benefits (DOF, 2013a).
The voluntary establishment of Community Conservation Areas (CCAs) by communities in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation (DEPC) aims to strengthen the on-going, traditional forest conservation efforts of local communities. CCA establishment and registration involves the development of management plans based on biodiversity assessments and the traditional governance systems of the community involved (D. KALFATAK 2013, pers. comm., 22 October). This approach, with community structures and environmental management at its heart, could have important lessons for REDD+ as implementation progresses.
Vanuatu’s most recent national forest inventory was carried out in 1993, financed by the Australian Development Cooperation. This national forest inventory was incorporated into the Vanuatu Resource Information System (VANRIS), which has been used to guide commercial forest resource exploitation and as the basis for forest management since. However, given the changes in national forest cover since the early 1990s, the information contained within the inventory and VANRIS is now out of date. Vanuatu therefore requires a revised and updated national forest inventory to allow for monitoring for REDD+ (DOF, 2013a).
The national system for the measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) of changes in forest carbon stock will be developed by the Department of Forests (DoF), with external financial and technical support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and specifically its Applied Geoscience and Technology Division, and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), through their collaborative regional forest conservation programme. DoF requires greater capacity in the technical expertise needed to develop a national MRV system, therefore the support of SPC-GIZ will be vital. There are concerns however that increasing the Department’s focus in this area may strain its capacity and so detract from other aspects of forest management, and equally that Vanuatu may not be able to immediately take ownership of this aspect of REDD+.
Vanuatu’s Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) details the stepwise development of a cost-effective system for measuring, reporting and verifying changes in carbon stock at the national level, that will ultimately allow for the MRV of the all five REDD+ activities (deforestation, forest degradation, sustainable management of forests, enhancement of forest carbon stocks, and conservation of forest carbon stocks). The national MRV system will initially be comprised of two main activities: a National Forest and Greenhouse Gas Inventory, and Deforestation Monitoring (DOF, 2013a).
In line with Vanuatu’s activity-based REDD+ scheme, the MRV system will allow for data on changes in forest carbon stock at the national level to be associated with land use activities at the subnational level within provinces or islands. The MRV system will be developed using available national forest inventory and remote sensing data and in line with the recommendations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Guidelines for National Greenhouse Inventories of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (DOF, 2013a).
According to the R-PP, Vanuatu’s national forest inventory is expected to be based on the Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting for Sustainable Forest Management (MAR-SFM) approach, developed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) using FAO guidelines specifically for small Pacific island states (see: THIELE ET AL., 2010).
As part of the Vanuatu Carbon Credits Project (VCCP), a satellite-based monitoring assessment of Vanuatu’s national forest resources for 1990 and 2000 was undertaken (HEROLD ET AL. 2007). The assessment, based on Landsat, ASTER and SPOT satellite imagery, indicated the change in forest cover between 1990 and 2000 and identified the historical rates of deforestation for individual islands (ibid). Despite the use of a variety of data sources, 20% of Vanuatu’s land area could not be included in the assessment due to persistent cloud cover (ibid). It is therefore anticipated that the national forest inventory will also include multispectral optical and radar imagery data (DOF, 2013a).
In the early stages of the development of the national MRV system, efforts will be focused on Vanuatu’s five larger islands of Santo, Malekula, Efate, Tanna and Erromango. Some of this work has already commenced on Santo, and it is anticipated that once this is complete, inventory work on the remaining four islands will commence (DOF, 2013a).
The activity-based approach being taken by Vanuatu means that area-based projects, such as the Live and Learn pilot project, are not the responsibility of the government. However, there will be the opportunity for project developers to nest projects within the national accounting framework. Although it is unlikely that the national MRV system will be accurate enough for the project-level, more detailed data from the project-level will be incorporated into the national MRV system so as to ensure that any changes in forest carbon stock will not be double counted.
The R-PP also contains information plans to develop parallel systems for monitoring the impacts of different REDD+ policy measures, as well as social and environmental safeguards. Ideally, these systems will then inform subsequent REDD+ activities in an adaptive management framework (DOF, 2013a).
- – National Summary
- – Institutional arrangements
- – Stakeholder engagement and participation
- – Land tenure arrangments and carbon rights
- – Forest management
- – Components of REDD+