FIJI JOINS GLOBAL COMMUNITY IN CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL FOREST DAY

A University of Fiji student plants a pine tree to mark International Forestry Day.

Protecting and sustainably managing Fiji?s trees, forests and vital ecosystem requires collective work and effort from every Fijian.

This was highlighted by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests, Inia Seruiratu, at the celebrations commemorating the International Day of Forests.

Held at the Thurston Gardens in Suva this morning, the event recognises global concerns on the role of forests in sustaining lives and communities.

Speaking at the event, Minister Seruiratu said that raising awareness on the conservation of forests also plays an important role in supporting communities.

?Government has always allocated significant amount of funds for raising awareness on the importance of forests in providing for our livelihoods, and also for the implementation of informal training programs to forest owning communities on how to make better management decisions with regard to the utilisation of their forest resources,? Mr Seruiratu said.

?Fiji has a total land area of 1.827 million hectares of which 58 per cent is covered with forests, consisting of 85.3 per cent natural forests, 2.4 per cent pine plantations and 5 per cent of mahogany plantations.

?Forest degradation due to a number of issues ranging from economic, social and demographic, were identified in 2009 as a major issue posing a great threat to the sustainability of Fiji?s forest ecosystem,? Minister Seruiratu said.

To address these issues, the Fijian Government will also review and strengthen policies and legislations to better protect local forests.

Today, celebrations took place in other parts of the country. In Lautoka, students from the?University of Fiji planted more than 100 mangrove trees at the Lautoka.

Government?s Western Division Forestry officer Rafaele Raboiliku said students from Lautoka wanted to do something for the environment such as plating mangroves along the shoreline.

?So they requested if they could plant mangroves which would contribute their share to mark the International Forests Day and at the same time also assist in efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change,? he said.

MINFO