Vanuatu National Forest Policy

Every person has the following fundamental duties to himself and his descendants and to others to protect the Republic of Vanuatu and to safeguard the national wealth, resources and environment in the interests of the present generation and of future generations (Art. 7d, Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu).

Guided by the staff of the Vanuatu Department of Forests, the 1997 National Forest Policy has been reviewed and revised. Redundant aspects have been removed and issues and challenges of today
and tomorrow have been integrated, such as the impacts of climate change, downstream processing, marketing and trade, revenue generation, Ni-Vanuatu participation, reforestation and forest conservation. This updated policy is the result of a collaborative and participatory effort to set a framework for the development and management of the entire forestry sector. It is not only a reflection of the priorities of the Vanuatu Government’s Department of Forests. For that reason, the consultation process for the review was both comprehensive and inclusive, involving international, national, provincial, community, NGO and private sector stakeholders. In workshops at the national and provincial levels, a policy statement was jointly agreed upon, including a long-term vision for the forestry sector as well as both general and more specific objectives.

This policy presents clear policy directives that are supported by implementation strategies that include timelines and responsibilities. Each policy directive is prioritized according to urgency and implementation timeframes (1: short-term, urgent; 2: medium-term; and 3: long-term). Although the policy directives and implementation strategies differ in terms of depth and detail, they reflect the current and future needs of Vanuatu’s forestry stakeholders at all levels. The Policy’s directives and strategies are not exhaustive, and others can be added flexibly and as deemed necessary by forestry stakeholders. The condensed version of the updated National Forest Policy includes a status report on Vanuatu’s forest sector, an overview of current activities, constraints and challenges, relevant definitions and the policy directives and strategies. The comprehensive version of the National Forest Policy provides additional information on provincial development goals, commercial timber species, policies and legislation of relevance for the forestry sector, and information on the consultation process followed for the current policy review.

The implementation of the policy directives developed in this Forest policy Statement requires sufficient financial and human resources as well as trained staff. Considering the many challenges and
constraints limiting the development of the forestry sector in Vanuatu, it is advisable to concentrate initially on the following three priority actions:

1. Undertake a comprehensive forest resources assessment (incl. the collection of necessary information for climate change mitigation and adaptation measures);
2. Undertake economic analyses of wood and non-wood forest production and services;
3. Revise and strengthen the legal and institutional framework for the forestry sector. The resulting draft policy was reviewed and subsequently validated in yet another round of consultations
in February 2011. In all, over 180 individuals and 35 institutions have contributed to the development of this policy. Vanuatu’s new National Forest Policy has been endorsed by the honorable
Council of Ministers on (not yet endorsed).

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