Con­serv­ing our forests


EV­ERY­ONE has a re­spon­si­bil­ity when it comes to con­serv­ing natural re­sources like forests. Forests, ac­cord­ing to the Fiji REDDPLUS Pol­icy, are land span­ning more than 0.5 hectares with tree higher than five me­tres and a canopy cover of more than 10 per cent.

It does not in­clude land that is pre­dom­i­nantly un­der agri­cul­ture or ur­ban use.

For­est is de­ter­mined both by the pres­ence of trees and the ab­sence of other predominan­t land uses.

Ac­cord­ing to the pol­icy ar­eas un­der re­for­esta­tion that have not yet reached but are ex­pected to reach a canopy cover of 10 per cent and a tree height of five me­tres are in­cluded, as are tem­po­rar­ily

un-stocked ar­eas, re­sult­ing from hu­man in­ter­ven­tion or natural causes which are ex­pected to re­gen­er­ate.

It is good to see that Fi­jians are putting in the ef­fort of con­serv­ing for­est through var­i­ous ini­tia­tives like the plant a mil­lion tree ini­tia­tives and the REDDPLUS pro­gram - ideas that have cre­ated aware­ness on how Fi­jians need to pro­tect and sus­tain their forests.

REDD-PLUS for ex­am­ple goes be­yond de­for­esta­tion and for­est degra­da­tion and in­cludes the role of con­ser­va­tion, sus­tain­able man­age­ment of forests and en­hance­ment of for­est car­bon stocks.

Sus­tain­able for­est man­age­ment as de­scribed by the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly, 2008, is a dy­namic and evolv­ing con­cept in­tended to main­tain and en­hance the economic, so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal value of all types of forests, for the ben­e­fit of present and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

In or­der to meet the emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­get to achieve the re­duc­tion of 2.5 mil­lion tons of car­bon-diox­ide over the next five years, we need to plant more trees.

This was high­lighted by the per­ma­nent sec­re­tary for Forests, Pene Baleinab­uli at the REDD+ (re­duc­ing emis­sions from de­for­esta­tion and for­est degra­da­tion in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries) En­vi­ron­men­tal Stew­ard­ship In­ter-Faith Based Or­ga­ni­za­tion Lead­ers Aware­ness Fo­rum at the Pa­cific Re­gional Sem­i­nary last week.

"The aim for Fiji is to plant 4 mil­lion trees in four years, we want to make sure that this ini­tia­tive is taken on and made a con­stant part of our daily lives."

Mr Baleinab­uli said part of the four mil­lions trees plan was to get the com­mu­ni­ties in­volved and ac­tively en­gage with them.

"The Min­istry of Forests wants to es­tab­lish nurs­eries around the coun­try where we would in­vite mem­bers of the com­mu­nity to look af­ter them."

Ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of In­for­ma­tion, Mr Baleinab­uli said that the Min­istry will build the nurs­eries and will train the peo­ple to look af­ter them.

"When the seedlings are ready, the min­istry will pur­chase those seedlings which would be­come a form of economic ac­tiv­ity," he said.

"It is a source of liveli­hood for our com­mu­ni­ties and that is an area I will ask ev­ery­one here to em­power and en­cour­age peo­ple in the com­mu­ni­ties to con­sider."

Mr Baleinab­uli added that with Fiji be­ing a small coun­try it would be eas­ier to man­age con­ser­va­tion ef­forts well com­pared with larger coun­tries.

"I be­lieve that re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tions in Fiji wield a lot of sig­nif­i­cant in­flu­ence in So­ci­ety and be­cause of that, you could help in pro­tect­ing our en­vi­ron­ment."

"What we are try­ing to do in this ta­lanoa ses­sion is to also hear from you on how you want us to work to­gether to help pro­tect the natural en­vi­ron­ment for Fiji."

The ob­jec­tive of the dis­cus­sion is to cre­ate aware­ness of Fiji's Na­tional REDD+ Pro­gram amongst the in­ter­faith based or­gan­i­sa­tional lead­ers.

REDD-PLUS co­or­di­na­tor Vil­iame Rabici said they were propos­ing in their five-year plan that they would be able to have a net of $2.5 mil­lion tons of car­bon diox­ide equiv­a­lent over the next five years.

"That can be gen­er­ated through the ac­tiv­i­ties that we are putting across with con­ser­va­tion, cli­mate smart agri­cul­ture and af­foresta­tion," he said.

He said the World Bank would then see if we could im­ple­ment all those ac­tiv­i­ties that we had promised to do in our pro­gram and its only then that we could get paid.

"We are on the right track and the pro­gram that we have de­vel­oped is based on wide con­sul­ta­tion and re­search and hav­ing to con­firm the par­tic­i­pa­tion of other agents and so we have a whole host of net­work ready to im­ple­ment."

Pic­ture: SUP­PLIED

Min­istry of For­est per­ma­nent sec­re­tary Pene Baleinab­uli (sit­ting sec­ond from left) with In­ter-Faith based or­gan­i­sa­tion lead­ers and REDD+ of­fi­cials dur­ing the REDD+ (re­duc­ing emis­sions from de­for­esta­tion and for­est degra­da­tion in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries) En­vi­ron­men­tal Stew­ard­ship In­ter-Faith Based Or­ga­ni­za­tion Lead­ers Aware­ness Fo­rum at the Pa­cific Re­gional Sem­i­nary in Suva last week.

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