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Naikatini: Dry forest research 'lagging'

Kalesi Mele
Saturday, May 20, 2017

INVASIVE species and forest fires have reduced Fiji's tropical dry forest to less than 1 per cent.

University of the South Pacific Institute of Applied Science senior technical officer Alivereti Naikatini said while degradation of dry forest was extensive, research in this field was "lagging".

He made these comments at the launch of the Mamanuca Environment Society's seed source and afforestation project at Solevu Village, on Malolo Island on Thursday.

"Crested Iguanas are used as an indicator species for the status of the dry forest. So when we do surveys on the coastal dry forest area and we see an iguana, it's an indication that patch of dry forest is still intact.

"The dry forest itself in Fiji, it's understudied.

"So some of the plant species that are endemic to Fiji are found only in the dry forest.

"What we are doing right now when we go out to the field is try to map out areas they find similar existing dry forest because there hasn't been extensive work done solely on dry forest.

"And the system is fading quickly from degradation and the inclusion of invasive species, so research is lagging," he said.

He added forest fires in Fiji that have led to the damages of dry forest systems have been largely caused by man.

The launch of the MES project is the first project oriented towards protecting what is left, and fixing what was damaged of dry forest systems.

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