TROPIK Wood Industries Limited in Drasa Lautoka has embarked on an ambitious plan to plant 33 million pine trees over the next seven years.
With a total target area of 30,000 hectares at 1100 plants per hectare, the reforestation program is expected to cost $30million and raise significantly more in pine wood and chips for both the export and local market.
Executive chairman Faiz Khan said his team was focused on ensuring Fiji's pine industry was restored to its former glory after years of neglect and a failure by previous administrations to implement sustainable replanting programs.
One of the biggest drivers for him personally was ensuring the sustainable livelihoods of the hundreds of workers who depended on pine planting or processing.
The Drasa pine processing plant was shut down yesterday and workers visited the Lololo Nursery to see first-hand the intricacies involved in planting and nurturing pine seedlings.
"We shut down our factory at Drasa for one day to raise awareness among our workers of the importance of planting pine," Mr Khan said.
"I intend to make this a yearly event with the intention that everyone in the industry appreciates the need for sustainable forestry."
Mr Khan said the decision to include mill workers in the replanting program was made to make workers aware of the level of nurturing and resources needed to produce one pine log.
"By the end of this year we would have planted about 3500 hectares of pine with about 80 per cent survivability rate at a cost of $2million funded through our cash flow.
"Numerous landowner jobs have been created this year for people involved in planting. This is the first time Fiji Pine has achieved such a level of planting through its operational cash flow.
"Achievements at this level in the 90s and some years in the 2000s were made possible through government grants and loans."
About 100 workers from Tropik Wood's Drasa plant learnt about silviculture from seeds to seedlings to plants before proceeding to Vakabuli where each worker planted five pine plants as part of the reforestation program.
About three million seedlings have been planted so far this year.