Letters to the Editor – Saving our forests

Participants discuss issues at the workshop on Rabi Island. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

It is interesting to note that strategies are now in place to control deforestation on Rabi Island.

It is encouraging to note that the Rabi Island Council and the Rabi Island’s Farmers Association are behind moves to have villagers abide by a new rule of planting a seedling for every tree they cut down.

The association’s president, Benieri Nakarua, said they introduced the rule to control deforestation on the island.

This decision was made after the ministries of forestry and agriculture’s workshop on Sustainable Forest and Land Management on the island last week.

The workshop, he said, was informative and educational.

It is well and good that there is a concerted effort to ensure their forests are protected, or at least what is left of it.

It is when we consider the impact of development and the issues raised by the islanders that we see the negative impact, and the work that must be done to rectify that.

Then there is the issue of development and how we sometimes neglect the negative impact on our environment.

Villagers, he said, learnt “a lot, especially in sustaining our forest and land and this is something we never understood in the past”.

He spoke about the years of development and the cutting down of trees, subsequently negatively impacting their forests.

“In the past years, our fathers and grandfathers used to cut trees anyhow to make way for farming activities and it’s because they didn’t understand the importance of preserving our forests,” he said.

He speaks of the impact of that action.

“So the impact of their actions we are facing today like intermittent water supplies, dry land and our creeks and rivers are drying up fast.”

The workshop, Mr Nakarua said, was an eye-opener for many.

“Now we know the importance of our forest and how it plays a vital role with our water system.”

There is emphasis now on replanting.

There is a reason to do that.

The key, people like Mr Nakarua believe, lies in how well islanders like him understand, value and embrace this change.

To sustain their forests now would have a long term impact, they know, that will be beneficial for their future.

“The farmers have been informed that if they cut down one tree, they need to plant one tree.”

Council administrator Karia Christopher agreed that they must pursue this direction to save their forest.

“Our rivers have dried up and creeks have gone smaller so we will save our forest now for our future generation,” he said.

Perhaps there is a lesson here for other parts of the country that are facing similar scenarios.

Development and change are important, but so is the ability to understand and value our environment.

The people of Rabi must be acknowledged for making the commitment to embrace change.

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