Forests of Natewa


The Natewa Peninsula, found in a remote area of Vanua Levu island in Fiji, was until recently an island. As a result it is home not only to stunning forests but to endemic species. Teams of scientists, including those from Operation Wallacea, have so far discovered two new species to science at this site: (1) the Natewa Silktail, a species of bird known as a flycatcher, and (2) the Natewa Swallowtail,  a recently discovered unknown species of butterfly, and the first new species of swallowtail to be discovered anywhere on Earth in over 50 years! These species are likely to be found nowhere else outside the forests of Natewa.

Yet their survival, and that of the ecosystem they inhabit, is under imminent threat from the clearance of forest for kava plantations. If current deforestation rates continue, the pristine habitats of Natewa will be lost within decades, along with the flora and fauna that call it their home. This will lead to the extinction of at least our two endemic species, along with any others yet to be discovered in the area.

This project is an application for avoided carbon and biodiversity loss, with the funding used to protect the remaining forests including by developing alternative income streams for local communities. The levels of carbon and biodiversity within the remaining forests will be compared to those within nearby kava plantations, to calculate the amount which would be lost if no intervention was to take place. The precise scale of this project would be determined by the first stage of funding, but based on our current understanding we estimate a worst case scenario of 600 hectares of forest remaining, and a best case scenario of 2000 hectares, although the exact value will be constantly declining and so the need for funding is incredibly urgent.

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