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."
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.