Wild­fire cau­tion for pine plan­ta­tions

Fiji Sun - - Business - LI­TIA TIKO­MAILEPANONI rach­nal@fi­jisun.com.fj

As we ap­proach the dry sea­son, Fiji Pine Group of Com­pa­nies ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, Faiz Khan, has cau­tioned peo­ple to avoid wild­fires at all costs. Mr Khan said wild­fires have been a ma­jor loss for the pine in­dus­try over the years. And the in­dus­try at this stage can­not ac­com­mo­date any fur­ther losses given the sig­nif­i­cant dam­age from Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Win­ston in Fe­bru­ary. “The losses from the wild­fires have been quiet se­vere, and the time it takes to as­sess the losses is not im­me­di­ate,” Mr Khan said. He said some of the pine plan­ta­tions that are ma­tured enough do sur­vive af­ter the wild­fires while the rest are not so lucky. “If the plan­ta­tion is more than seven years old, the fire does prob­a­bly feed on the growth some­times but then it picks up again. That is what is pos­i­tive about pine plan­ta­tion,” he said.

Dam­age from cy­clone

Mean­while, Mr Khan con­firmed more than 100 hectares of pine have been re- planted af­ter the dam­age by Cy­clone Win­ston. “That’s our num­ber one pri­or­ity dur­ing the wet sea­son; our fo­cus is on 100 per cent on re-plant­ing,” he said. Mr Khan ear­lier had in­di­cated the to­tal loss from Cy­clone Win­ston was $2 mil­lion and back tracks the in­dus­try five years. “We had about 400 hectares of pine plan­ta­tion that was af­fected by TC Win­ston,” he said.

“About 300 hectares of plan­ta­tion was about five years old and so it had ac­tu­ally slanted due to heavy rains. “For a good pe­riod of 15 years or so, there was very lit­tle or no plant­ing and that dam­ages your cy­cle. We want our for­est to be sus­tained so we have a lot of catch­ing up to do. “There is ab­so­lutely no com­pro­mise - when the weather is con­ducive we are plant­ing, and we are push­ing to achieve our tar­get.”

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