The iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) has renewed its partnership with Wildlife Conservation Society’s Fiji Country Program (WCS Fiji) in an effort to enhance natural resource management, working closely with communities in Fiji.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was recently signed between WCS Fiji and the iTaukei Land Trust Board. The agreement signifies the commitment of the two organizations to sustainably manage and protect Fiji’s precious biodiversity and terrestrial natural resources in ways that will provide benefits in return to the communities.
While signing the MoU, Dr Mangubhai said, that the partnership provided a foundation for WCS Fiji to work collectively with TLTB to further explore opportunities to establish conservation leases in Fiji, in partnership with local landowners.
In 2018, through similar partnership with TLTB, WCS Fiji had successfully secured a conservation lease for the nationally significant, highly biodiverse Kilaka Forest which is situated in the District of Kubulau in Bua Province on Vanua Levu.
“Our work with iTLTB focused largely around setting up a conservation lease for Kilaka Forest to support landowners with their aspirations to protect their forest for its unique biodiversity, and the ecosystem services it provided including traditional medicine, clean water and healthy watersheds.”
“We know this model works, and are grateful to have the opportunity to work with TLTB again to look at how we can expand this work to cover other national priority areas for Fiji, in close partnership with local landowners and key government ministries,” Dr Mangubhai highlighted.
Additionally, by implementing projects through this MoU partnership, WCS Fiji and iTLTB aim at optimizing benefits for the landowners in terms of incentives, revenue and sustained natural resources.
The TLTB Chief Executive Officer Tevita Kuruvakadua said that TLTB as administrator of about 90% of Fiji’s landmass has an important responsibility of properly managing our resources, especially our forest ecosystems. Currently, TLTB has been encouraging and having ongoing negotiations with various land owning units around Fiji on leasing portions of their lands, particularly within degraded and deforested areas, for conservation purposes. The conservation initiatives are also in line with national Redd+ and emission reduction targets, as well as Fiji’s 30 million trees campaign by 2035.
Mr Kuruvakadua reinforced the message that their core business of sustainable development and wealth creation also required that they protect the interests of the landowners and stakeholders. “As custodians for our landowners’ resources, we continue to look for the most innovative and sustainable processes to deliver resilient estate land management services to all our customers”, he said. “Amongst these are the dialogues with key stakeholders on how best to offer alternative livelihoods, access benefits from payment of ecosystem services and improve quality of life for our landowners who are releasing lands for conservation purposes”.