Fiji will observe International Day of Forests this Friday, March 21 at the Thurston Gardens in Suva with the theme “Celebrate our Forests, Restore, Improve, Sustain and Enhance.”

The Department of Fisheries and Forests will celebrate this day through promotion and awareness activities in a day set aside to plant trees.

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries & Forests Inia Seruiratu will open the celebration with the planting of a tree and more tree planting by distinguished guests, government departments, academic institutes, NGO’s, school children and members of the public.

According to permanent secretary Inoke Wainiqolo, the International Day of Forests was formally proclaimed to be held on the March 21 and was first celebrated last year.

It is being held annually to raise awareness and importance of all types of forests and trees outside forests.

“Forests sustain life through the provision of food, shelter, clean air, water and employment: Help us sustain forests, plant a tree today, plant our future,” Mr Wainoqolo said.

Fiji has a total land area of 1.827 million hectares, consisting 58.3 per cent natural forests, 2.4 per cent pine plantations and 5.0 per cent of mahogany plantations.

Hence Fiji’s total forest cover is approximately 1,054,419 hectares in relation to the total landmass of 18,376 km2 or 58 per cent of Fiji is forested, of this 17.5 per cent (177,000 ha) is classified as primary forest, the most bio diverse and carbon-dense form of forest.

On the utilisation side, the major commodity derived from the forest is  timber through logging.

Fiji exports a total of around 15 forest commodities; Fiji is endowed with extensive forest resources that provide important environmental, social and economic benefits to its people.

Fiji’s plantation and natural forest resource plays an important role in the country’s national economic development.

The wise use of these resources is essential if their multiple values are to be maintained for the benefit of future generations.

Sustainable forest management as a dynamic and evolving concept aims to maintain and enhance the economic, social and environmental value of all types of forests, in alleviating poverty, ensuring food security, and in the achievement of climate change adaptation strategies.

Mr Wainiqolo confirmed the Friday programme will proceed with the chief guest planting the first tree which will  be a reminder to governments, businesses and all sectors of society to commit to reducing deforestation, preveng forest degradation, reduce poverty and promote sustainable livelihoods for all forest-dependent peoples.

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