Forest conservation is vital for sustainable developmen
The important role of forests in mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration has made it even more critical to ensure that forestry resources are managed and developed in a sustainable way.
These comments were made by Ms Fekita Utoikamanu, the Deputy Director-General (Suva) of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) when she opened the regional forestry technical meeting in Nadi, Fiji.
‘Through this meeting, we will be able to share and exchange information and lessons learnt, discuss new initiatives and emerging issues, and determine possible ways forward for the sustainable management of Pacific forest and tree resources.’
‘SPC fully supports and promotes this exchange of information between the countries in the region, particularly sharing success stories on the use of new strategies, policies and programmes that are helping countries and communities move closer towards the development and sustainable management of their forest resources,’ Ms Utoikamanu said.
The theme of the week-long meeting is ‘Sustainable Forest Management for a Resilient Future in the Pacific Region’. It will cover a wide range of topics, including Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), conservation and management of forest genetic resources, forest health, food security, forest trade and certification and new initiatives.
Acknowledging that forests and trees play a vital role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods, the Deputy Director-General reminded the meeting that these valuable resources must be conserved, managed and utilised in a sustainable manner.
‘Better managed, healthy forests are able to adapt better to climate change and therefore contribute to the improved resilience of the communities that rely on them.’
‘We are all aware of these facts, but we also fully recognise that achieving or even moving closer to this ideal state is easier said than done due to challenges such as unsustainable logging practices, inadequately planned development and unregulated conversion of forested areas into agricultural land.’
Noting that based on present trends, the Pacific Island region’s population is expected to reach 15 million by 2035, Ms Utoikamanu also said, ‘To meet the demand for food without significant price rises, food production needs to increase by over 50 per cent. With increasing urbanisation, a significant slice of our agricultural land is being taken over for housing and other developments, meaning that agriculture is being pushed on to marginal sloping land. This in turn threatens forests.’
‘We need to be innovative in our ideas and come up with policies and strategies that are going to ensure a balanced approach to our development.’
The meeting is being organised by the Land Resources Division and supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The contribution of the European Union (EU) to SPC’s forestry programme is also acknowledged.