Plea for ministry to take back lead role

Participants during the Fiji Mahogany Trust meeting at the Wesley City Mission Church hall in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

MEMBERS of Fiji Mahogany Trust (FMT) pleaded with the Ministry of Forests to return and play a lead role in the forestry sector during their first board meeting held at the Wesley City Mission Church hall in Suva yesterday.

Issues raised at the meeting in the presence of Ministry of Forestry permanent secretary Pene Baleinabuli included:

  •  High fees being implemented by the Environment Department;
  • Difficulty in harvesting mahogany;
  • Get back the 10 per cent shares that resource owners used to have at Fiji Hardwood implemented again; and
  • Resource owners to encourage their children to become qualified foresters as they would become the best advocates for their resources.

Mr Baleinabuli reassured members of the FMT that the ministry would now be available to assist them in any way possible.

He encouraged resource owners to continue harvesting mahogany and at the same time replant it because if not their businesses would be short lived. Mr Baleinabuli urged resource owners to enter the ministry doors as they provided technical expertise and portable sawmills to assist them. “We are repositioning ourselves as a ministry to help and assist you in every way possible.

“I am recommitting the ministry to help you landowners so you can benefit now and also that of your future generations.”

In regards to rebuilding relationship with Fiji Hardwood Corporation and regaining the 10 per cent shares that landowners used to have, Mr Baleinabuli said there was always a solution to every problem and that working together with stakeholders started now.

“I have urged ministry officials that we need to work in collaboration and co-ordination with landowners and we will try and come back to play a lead role in the forestry sector.”

FMT acting chairman Serevi Baledrokadroka said it was good news that the Ministry of Forests was coming back into the picture.

“Na tei ni mahogany a tauyavu ga mai vei ratou. Na matanitu ena gauna o ya a kerea na taukei ni qele me soli e dua na tiki ni qele me tei kina na mahogany. Keitou marautaka sara vakalevu nodratou sa na mai sema tale tiko kei keimami.”

(Planting mahogany was initially started by the Ministry of Forests back in the days. They had requested land from landowners for this purpose and we are grateful that they are back and we will work with them.)

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