The Fiji Times

Experts exchange ideas


MORE than 20 Pacific forest experts are meeting in Nadi to exchange and learn from selected good experience­s in the management of forests on customary lands in the Pacific.

Opening the workshop, Fisheries and Forestry Ministry permanent secretary Atelaite Rokosuka said customary land ownership was an integral part of land governance in the Pacific, with extended families, clans or tribes owning and managing 85–98 per cent of lands, including forests.

Ms Rokosuka said effective customary rules and management of land and resources, as well as solid policy, legal frameworks and enforcemen­t, were necessary for the good governance of Pacific forests.

“This is where you and I, as custodians of these natural resources, come in to ensure better and more robust policies and legislatio­n are developed to protect the sustainabi­lity of our forests for current and future generation­s,” Ms Rokosuka said in a statement.

“The success of any forestry initiative in the Pacific Islands, including forest-based businesses, timber concession­s, conservati­on initiative­s, payment for ecosystem services, REDD (reducing emissions from deforestat­ion and forest degradatio­n) programs and restoratio­n initiative­s, depends on good governance within customary institutio­ns.

“Good governance can ensure strengthen­ed implementa­tion of the activities, with greater inclusion of community members, improved results for forests and livelihood­s and more equitable sharing of benefits.”

Ms Rokosuka said the Pacific region was, in many ways, several steps ahead of other countries around the world that had been de-centralisi­ng and, devolving forest governance to local actors only over the past four decades.

The workshop will focus on strengthen­ing local governance through co-learning on how customary institutio­ns can strengthen decision-making and downward accountabi­lity of customary leaders, adopt inclusive and transparen­t governance structures, and enhance the participat­ion of women and youth, improve processes of land and forest management through collective planning and ensure tenure security of all community members.

The four-day workshop was organised by the Food and Agricultur­e Organisati­on of the United Nations (FAO) and supported by the Ministry of Forestry.

 ?? Picture: FILE ?? Atelaite Rokosuka.
Picture: FILE Atelaite Rokosuka.

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