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Cefkin joins stakeholders

Kalesi Mele
Saturday, May 20, 2017

US Ambassador to Fiji, Judith Cefkin, joined tourism stakeholders this week for the launch of a project to protect what remains of the tropical dry forests in the Mamanuca Group.

At Solevu Village on Malolo Levu Island, officials from the Mamanuca Environment Society and forestry experts presented a i sevusevu to the Turaga na Tui Lawa, the high chief of Malolo district, Ratu Savanaia Vatunitu seeking permission to collect dry forest seedlings and propagate them in the dry forest nurseries funded by the US Embassy. Ahura Resorts gave 20 dry forest saplings to initiate the afforestation project.

"These have been painstakingly established in its own dry forest nursery over the last three years, growing trees from seed and from transplanted saplings, This isn't just about planting an old tree, it's about the long term restoration of a damaged forest environment made of specific species for future generations to enjoy," Group general manager Steve Anstey said.

Malolo Levu Island, the largest in the Mamanuca Group is comprised of 90 hectares of land area.

Today only 29 hectares or three per cent of the Island has dry forest.

Ms Cefkin said the US was grateful to be part of an initiative that involves the sustainable management of the environment.

"We realise as our scientific understanding of the environment increases that we are reminded everyday of things that our forefathers understood intuitively, and that is every aspect of our environment is interrelated," she said.

"The forest we can easily sometimes take for granted play an integral role in many things including combating climate change by sequestering greenhouse gasses, and also in helping to replenish the aquifers upon which they depend underneath their soil. They also lock down top soil that might otherwise wash away out to see and damage the reef which protect the shore lines of these beautiful islands and provide abundant sea life."

"They provide a habitat for rare native species so that is why I am so proud that the US Government, and under the offices of our regional environmental office at the US Embassy, has been able to undertake this project together with the MES."

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