Tree replanting areas mapped out

TRADITIONAL landowners on Taveuni have mapped out several hectares of land for tree replanting to restore areas of forest that have been converted to agricultural land in the past 20 years.

District representative for tikina Cakaudrove Vatiliai Tikonaivalu said this was the ultimate price that people on the island had to pay after clearing exotic forests for the cultivation of dalo and yaqona.

Mr Tikonaivalu said the communities were very interested and prepared to work on their plans because they see the need to restore their watersheds and the fertility of the soil.

“We are happy to be working with the Ministry of Forests and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program’s (SPREP), Pacific Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change (PEBACC) project to address this issue,” he said.

Farmer James Prasad of Qila said an issue that farmers faced on the island was the decrease of soil fertility and when they actually learnt of the causes of this it gave them an urge to do something about their environment before they lost it all.

Since 2016, the SPREP through PEBACC has been supporting community outreach work in Taveuni to educate the community leaders and people about the importance of restoring and protecting ecosystems on the island from the mountains to the sea.

Project Manager of SPREP’s PEBACC Project, Herman Timmermans said iTaukei communities around the island acknowledge that deforestation was an issue and they were really fired up to do natural forest restoration work.

In an interview, Forestry Extension officer Maleli Niakasava said they were working with SPREP for the construction of a tree nursery on the island that would be remodelled after its Korotari counterpart.

Mr Naikasala said presently no plant materials including seedlings could be transported to Taveuni due to the Dalo Beetle ban enforced on the island.

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