Two villages in the Province of Bua in Vanua Levu welcomed the Ministry of Forestry officials’ plea to plant more trees so as to better sustain their forests and contribute to building climate resilient communities.

Director Forestry Operations North, Mr Moape Lotawa led a six-member team to the villages of Kilaka in the district of Kubulau and Daria in the district of Wainunu for the Reforestation of Degraded Forest (RDF) Consultation on Monday 27th May, 2019.

Mr Lotawa told villagers that the RDF program is nothing new as it began way back in 1992 after Fiji signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Earth Summit in Rio.

He added the RDF along with the 4 Million Trees in 4 Years Initiative (4MT4Y) are two separate projects by the Ministry of Forestry which aims at promoting the sustainable management of our forests.

“There are many things you can do to grow your degraded forests and our Ministry is here to advice you and work with you all,” Mr Lotawa said.

“If you have land that needs to be planted, our Ministry is ready to supply you with seedlings and other forms of expert assistance on how to plant and manage your trees and forest areas.”

Requests by villagers to have nurseries set up was welcomed, however, Mr Lotawa highlighted that from past experiences village nurseries were often left idle and ignored after being built.

“Our experience in working with communities in the past was the negligence of nurseries after they were established. We found upon conducting follow up sessions that there was no one left to manage the nurseries or water the plants so Government resources have actually been wasted.

“We must remember that every dollar spent by Government must yield maximum returns for the betterment of the communities and the people,” he said.

The Ministry of Forestry will welcome requests to establish community nurseries, and intends to elevate its services including closely monitoring the nurseries as the success of Fiji’s 4MT4Y initiative will depend to a large extent on community participation and partnerships.

The communities need to take ownership of Fiji’s tree-planting initiative.