The Emalu forest is located South-West of Viti Levu, the largest island in Fiji. The forest has an area of almost 7400 hectares, is uninhabited and traditionally owned by the clan of Emalu. This is one of the largest pieces of land in Fiji owned by a single clan. More than 60% of the Emalu clan members are women and they have an equal stake and say on their land as the male clan members.

The Emalu forest is one of the hottest biodiversity spots in Fiji and is very unique even when compared to other hotspots in Fiji. This uniqueness includes a high occurrence of endemism not only in terms of diversity but also in population. This is a strong indication of the intactness of the forest.

The Emalu forest is also a very important watershed when compared to other headwaters of Viti Levu because it is largely undisturbed. This ensures the provision of important ecosystem services to local communities downstream and to one the largest vegetable producing sites in Fiji, the Sigatoka valley. The Emalu forest also holds culturally significant information. Archaeological features include old agriculture terraces, extensive channels/aqueducts for taro irrigation, habitation terraces, hill fortifications and habitation platforms.

Given the ecological significance of the site, the Emalu forest was selected as a REDD+ Pilot site for conservation in 2012. Since then there has been a strong focus on enhancing community livelihoods with strong community engagement in order to reduce the growing pressure to clear the Emalu forest for agriculture cultivation.

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