The safeguarding and protection of Fiji’s natural biodiversity must take precedence in all aspects of development.
This was reiterated by the Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy while officiating at the handing over of fencing materials to livestock farmers at the Legalega Research Station today as part of the Ridge-to-Reef (R2R) Protection of Biodiversity from Free Animals program.
He said achieving development objectives at the expense of our natural biodiversity was ill-advised as biodiversity was critical for sustainable development, adding that agricultural activity like livestock farming, as a contributing factor to the loss of biodiversity needed to be mitigated.
“We all know the critical importance of biodiversity to our sustenance and our development goals, it is important that we mainstream biodiversity into all aspects of our development, across areas such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry, tourism, and waterways,” said Minister Reddy.
“The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) indicates that livestock is among the sectors with the highest impact on the biodiversity-the second most important driver of global biodiversity loss, by releasing about 14.5% of global greenhouse gases (GHG).”
Minister Reddy added that as much as animals were a part of our diversity, at times they also altered biodiversity, as livestock farming required much land and contributed towards the destroying of native plant, animal species, and their habitat.
Livestock farmers received assistance to help fence their paddocks through the provision of fencing materials, funded by the GEF STAR Fiji R2R Project. Through this initiative, the following GEF-7 investment focus and main objectives will be addressed;
i. Mainstream biodiversity across sectors as well as landscapes and seascapes;
ii. Address direct drivers to protect habitats and species;
Furthermore, this project suits and addresses the “Impact Programs” as outlined by GEF, and will address underlying drivers of global environmental degradation. It addresses the following programs which are most germane to the CBD;
iii. The Food Systems, Land Use, and Restoration Impact Program aim to transform lives and avoiding the potential resulting loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, overexploitation of resources, and inefficient practices that lead to GHG emissions.
Moreover, the project addresses the following outputs of the Fiji National R2R Project.
a. Component 1: Conservation Of Terrestrial And Marine Biodiversity
b. Component 2: Conservation, Restoration And Enhancement Of Carbon Stocks Through Sustainable Forestry, and;
c. Component 3: Integrated Natural Resources Management