Project lists

Capacity building towards effective implementation of SFM practices
25 Feb 2020     

Capacity building towards effective implementation of Sustainable Forest Management practices in Fiji, Tonga and Niue

Project title:  Capacity building towards effective implementation of Sustainable Forest Management practices in Fiji, Tonga and Niue  [project ID:  2015P3-SPC ]

Executing agency:    Secretariat of the Pacific Community 

Implementing agency:  Forestry Divisions within the governments of Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga and Niue

Budget in USD (total / APFNet grant): 666,500/488,500

Kick-off date & duration: June 2015, 03/2016-03/2019

Target economy: Fiji, Tonga, and Niue

Site Location: The forests and tree resources of Fiji, the kingdom of Tonga and Niue



Forests and tree resources are an integral part of land use in the Pacific Island Economies including Fiji, Tonga and Niue. Covering small areas across dozens of islands, forests and trees regardless provide a key source of income to communities, and landowners through timber, food, medicine and other products. They are also play a critical function in coastal and storm protection, and mitigating the effects of climate change to those vulnerable islands.


However, these resources have been depleted through agricultural clearing and unsustainable harvesting practices, which can often not be addressed as the small size of the respective economies often leads to a lack of funds to invest into the improvement of forest management and better monitoring. Hence, the adoption and implementation of effective and practical regulatory frameworks for sustainable forest management, along with targeted capacity building, has the potential to substantially improve the environmental, social and economic benefits that forests and trees can bring to landowners and communities. 



Forest Management Plan (FMP)

Code of Practice


Implementation Strategy(IS)






To develop effective strategies to implement the CoPs

To develop IS and mechanism for monitoring the IS





To develop a FMP

To develop IS and mechanism for monitoring the IS


Yes, a draft version only



To finalize the FMP

To develop IS and mechanism for monitoring the IS

Table 1. Review of regulatory frameworks of the three economies and priorities for improvements


APFNet has funded the project “Capacity building towards effective implementation of Sustainable Forest Management practices in Fiji, Tonga and Niue” to 1) support and assist the economies to develop sustainable forest management plans and 2) build a mechanism for the effective implementation, enforcement and monitoring these forest management plans and codes.


Strategically planning the sustainable management of forests


The Tonga case

Tonga, a big island covered with forests on 85% of its area in the forms of agroforestry lands, coconut woodlands, timber plantation, and remnant natural forests. Nearly half of all the forests are in private ownership and have faced threats such as clearing for agriculture, unsustainable cutting of sandalwood, land tenure conflicts and a lack of knowledge on conservation of local people. While higher level policies, such as the National Forestry Policy (2009) and the Code of Practice for the Sustainable Management of the Forests and Tree Resources of Tonga (2010) exist, to deal with these issues on the ground Tonga needed a concrete forest management plan. Thus APFNet has supported Tonga in the development of such a plan, which in April 2017 has been adopted by the government. The plan outlines the strategic actions and methods to tackle threats to the forests and stipulates institutional arrangements to enable successful forest management.


As one of the highest value commodities, sandalwood has the potential to make a substantial, ongoing socio-economic contribution to landowners and local communities. Thus, a large part of the plan focuses on the sustainable management of this commodity.


Additionally, one part of the forest management plan, the Operating Procedures for the Sandalwood Trade for Tonga have been adopted by the government with the purpose to promote sandalwood planting, control theft, and achieve sustainable management of the resource under the support of the project.


The case of Niue

Similarly, located at the west of Tonga, Niue has been facing similar issues. The National Forest Policy Statement (2003), a Code of Harvesting Practice (2004) and a draft national forest management plan (2013) already existed. The project has supported Niue to put the draft management plan up for final consultation among stakeholders and then helped submit it for approval by the government. The plan focuses on the training and education for stakeholders, responsible self-regulation by landowners, transparent monitoring and reporting, and the commitment of the government to ensure the forests are managed on a sustainable basis.


Implementing the plans

Once the Forest Management Plans and Codes of Practice are in place, mechanisms for implementing those frameworks are needed.   


The project has developed the mechanisms for Fiji, Tonga and Niue through consultation processes among government agencies and stakeholders. As a result, out of a number of proposed models such as predominantly governmental control model, and the self-regulation model the enhanced co-regulatory model has been chosen for implementing the policy and regulatory frameworks in all three economies.


This model mainly focuses on building capacity for self-management and self-regulation within the private sector (that is industry, timber licensees, landowners etc.) whilst the government mostly focuses on core functions. Specifically, the private sector has the authority and responsibility to plan, approve & certify, monitor and report on their timber harvesting operations while the responsible government will periodically assess the quality of reporting and monitoring of the private sector and ensure the enforcement of the legislation and codes of practice, while also providing training and education for landholders, community groups and other relevant stakeholders.


However, the strategies and plans for the effective implementation of the policy and regulatory frameworks are different among the three economies. In Tonga, the strategies and implementation plans are included in the forest management plan and have already been approved and launched by the government. They particularly focus on the key aspects of improving the legal and policy framework, building capacity for enhanced co-regulation, improving the enforcement of forest laws through monitoring and reporting on sustainable management etc.


Niue has proposed potential strategies to the government such as establishing a register of potential timber production lands, attracting businesses for the harvesting and processing of timber, building capacity of forest owners and other relevant stakeholders on the effective implementation, enforcement, monitoring and reporting of the forest management plans and so on.


Fiji is different. It primarily needs support in the effective implementation of the existing Forest Harvesting Code of Practice.  As mentioned, the implementation of the Code follows the co-regulation model, which appoints forest practice officers within the industry to be authorized to certify harvest plans, monitor and enforce the code, and provide compliance reports to the Forest Department while an independent monitoring unit will verify and report on the quality of the implementation. To improve the effective implementation, 21 actions have been identified and discussed among responsible government and stakeholders for strengthening the regulatory framework for the implementation of the Code. After finalization, those implementation strategies will be submitted to the government for approval.



To develop a forest management plan (FMP) for Tonga and to complete the FMP for Niue;

To develop strategies and mechanisms for effective implementation of the FMPs and codes of forest practices in Tonga, Fiji and Niue;

To develop mechanisms for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the FMPs and codes of forest practices in Tonga, Fiji and Niue.

Expected outputs:

- A background report is prepared to review the current status of forests and forest management in Tonga and to highlight the issues that are relevant for consideration under a FMP of Tonga;

- Forest Management Plans are completed for Tonga and Government of Niue;

     - Background reports are prepared to review the current legal and policy framework, institutional arrangements and mechanisms for implementing FMPs and codes of practices in the economies of Tonga, Fiji and Niue;

     - Implementation strategies are developed and submitted for governmental approval;

     - Training and education packages are developed to promote implementation of the FMPs and codes of practices;

     - Enforcement strategies are in place;

     - Institutional arrangements are in place to monitor the implementation of the FMPs and codes of practices;

     - Monitoring and reporting protocols are developed;

Training programs are developed and conducted.





Sandalwood Regulation 2016 of Tonga