Urban Forestry Project in Port Vila  

Name of case study

Urban Forestry Project in Port Vila


Port Vila Vanuatu




Urban/landscape scale

Area / size


NbS employed

Urban blue-green space

Type of NbS

 Created or constructed living ecosystems, Ecosystem restoration.


 SPREP (Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme), PEBACC (Pacific Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change) project and Victoria University of Wellington


Germany International Climate Initiative (IKI) via PEBACC


Not available

Design group

Victoria University of Wellington for the Pacific Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change (PEBACC) Programme

Tagabe river bank planting. Photo from SPREP
Climate change benefits
  • Biomass cover loss
  • Changes in rainfall
  • Coastal erosion
  • Coastal inundation and storm surge 
  • Coastal salt-water intrusion into aquifers
  • Drought
  • Flooding
  • Increased incidence/distribution of disease
  • Increased temperatures
  • Loss of food production
  • Ocean acidification
  • Reduced water quality
  • Sea level rise 
  • Soil erosion
  • Urban heat island effect
  • Reduced freshwater availability
Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Biodiversity health and conservation
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Economic and social development
  • Human physical health and wellbeing
  • Waste management, hygiene
  • Water security and quality
Ecological benefits
  • Climate regulation
  • Disturbance prevention Education and knowledge
  • Food production (for humans)
  • Freshwater
  • Pollination
  • Purification (of water, soil, air)
  • Soil building

Summary of case study

The Urban Forestry Project in Port Vila (Loubser, 2018) was outlined as a strategy to improve ecosystem-based adaption outcomes by Blaschke et al. (2017), in a report for SPREP’s Pacific Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change (PEBACC) Programme. Subsequently, SPREP and Vanuatu’s Department of Forestry initiated a forestry and riparian planting project, in Port Vila, the rapidly urbanising capital of Vanuatu. The project was intended to improve urban greening, provide food trees in the city, and develop riparian and coastal planting to address the impacts of climate change in the city, primarily flooding, sea level rise, erosion and reduced water quality. Additionally, Blaschke et al. (2017) suggested urban trees to improve food security and infrastructure improvement, especially for water management, and to enhance cultural identity by seeing urban trees as a potential living repository of traditional knowledge related to tree species.

The project included setting up community plant nurseries and planting alongside community members, providing education and training opportunities, and improving the availability of seedlings for planting projects throughout the city (Loubser, 2018). By improving the resilience of modified and natural environments in Port Vila, the project works towards climate change mitigation by improving carbon sequestration in urban areas through plant biomass, stabilising soils, especially on the banks and at the river mouth of the Tagabe River, the main catchment in Port Vila, and reestablishing storm buffering mangroves on the coast around the river mouth. Conservation and restoration of ecosystems in Port Vila supports ecological balance and ensures natural processes can continue to function as the pressures related to urbanisation increase (Blaschke et al., 2017). Access to natural ecosystems through blue-green projects like the Port Vila Urban Forestry project also produces a number of social benefits, overall improving wellbeing outcomes for local people.

Blaschke et al. (2017) promoted the inclusion of local stakeholders for the project, including local elders and leaders, to ensure traditional governance structures that still exist in Vanuatu are respected and maintained. Indigenous knowledge can provide deep insights into historic and current conditions of local ecosystems, as well as traditional methods of ecosystem management. Through community consultation and workshops, the project facilitated Indigenous knowledge sharing, potentially improving intergenerational knowledge transfer as communities become more fragmented by processes of urbanisation and migration.

The initial study conducted by Blaschke et al. (2017) and the related set of of implementation plan recommendations suggested by Pedersen Zari et al., (2017) were the result of a thorough planning process, including utilising GIS mapping and capturing accurate data in order to make suggestions. Based on this, the project was initiated in an initial phase with community-based action. The project is funded through collaborations between International and Governmental organisations in Vanuatu, so has specific timeframes to meet outcomes. Allowing for continuing monitoring and adaption means the project can adjust as needed in response to new data and environmental conditions. The Intra ACP GCCA+ Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building (PACRES) project is building on the initial stage of this project to continue riparian planting and introduce more organisational collaboration.

Read More
Department of Forestry tree nursery, Tagabe station, Port Vila. Photo from SPREP
  • Blaschke, P. M., Pedersen Zari, M., Archie, K. M., Jackson, B., Komugabe-Dixson, A., Livesey, C., Loubser, D., Gual, C. M.-A., Maxwell, D., Rastandeh, A., Renwick, J., & Weaver, S. (2017). Ecosystem assessment and ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) options for Port Vila, Vanuatu. Report prepared by Victoria University of Wellington for the Pacific Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change Programme (PEBACC) of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
  • Loubser, D. (2018, September 11). Urban forestry project commences in Port Vila, Vanuatu. SPREP. https://www.sprep.org/news/urban-forestry-project-commences-in-port-vila-vanuatu 
  • Pedersen Zari, M., Blaschke, P. M., Livesey, C., Martinez-Almoyna Gual, C., Weaver, S., Archie, K. M., Jackson, B., Komugabe-Dixson, A., Loubser, D., Maxwell, D., Rastandeh, A. & Renwick, J. (2017). Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) Project Implementation Plans, Port Vila, Vanuatu. Wellington, New Zealand: Report prepared by Victoria University of Wellington for the Pacific Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change Programme (PEBACC) of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

Further resources:

<< Urban food forests / urban orchards / edible landscapes << Urban blue-green space << Urban street trees / transport and infrastructure corridor planting