THE Fiji Pine Group along with sugar industry stakeholders conducted a series of meetings with communities living in or near pine forests last week.
Fiji Pine executive chairman Faiz Khan said the discussions were centred on the responsible use of fire in these areas after indiscriminate blazes destroyed 95.6 hectares of pine forests in Lololo in Lautoka and Nabou on the outskirts of Nadi.
The damage bill has been pegged at $250,000.
"We have, basically, been talking to sugarcane and livestock farmers emphasising the need for them to be extremely careful if and when they light fires," he said.
"We are trying to encourage people to refrain from lighting fires if possible because of the huge losses we have incurred this year alone."
Mr Khan said because of a long dry weather spell, conditions in and around pine forests were very conducive to small fires burning out of control very easily.
Lololo Forest Base Company Limited board member and landowner Makario Jope Kavoa pleaded with forest dwellers and farmers to act responsibly.
"It is not only the Fiji Pine Group that loses out, this also affects our livelihood," he said.