With forestry sector contributing about $40 million to Fiji’s economy annually, twenty-eight Forest Wardens from around the country were reminded of the crucial role they play in helping Fiji to sustainably manage its forest resources.
Permanent Secretary for Forestry Pene Baleinabuli acknowledged the willingness of the forest wardens to be the eyes and ears of the Fijian Government in their respective provinces.
He said the wardens will help the Ministry to improve its monitoring of harvesting operations and especially to ensure that the Ministry is able to capture the accurate value that Fiji’s forestry sector contributes to the nation’s economic growth.
“The Ministry of Forestry needs to ensure that it stops any leakages into the black economy. The Ministry is now re-positioning itself to help plant more trees and to ensure that all activities involving our forests are properly monitored and accurately recorded. Essentially, we need to re-organise ourselves and work with other stakeholders to help improve the forestry sector’s contribution to Fiji’s economy” he said.
Baleinabuli said the wardens could help the Ministry of Forestry staff in encouraging landowners to plant more trees. This is particularly important now that Government has a new national target to plant four million trees in four years. The 4MT4Y initiative was launched by the President, His Excellency Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote last month.
“You all play a vitally important role in helping our beloved nation to sustainably manage our forest resources, so that we could continue to champion climate change by protecting our natural environment and ecosystems and at the same time, where necessary, to wisely harvest our forests for socio-economic development,” he said.
He said that if the Ministry implements its responsibilities well, the resource owners including owners of native lands, freehold lands and holders of State land leases whose trees are harvested could generate reasonable wealth from their resources.
“This could mean improved livelihoods for our people, and increased growth for our national economy,” he said.
The Ministry is reviewing its operational strategies to ensure that all stakeholders in the forestry sector share the benefits of such resources, noting that forests are a scarce natural resource that must be managed sustainably.
“This is why we all need to work together, including Government, community-based forest wardens, and stakeholders within and outside of the forestry sector,” he said.
“But more than this, we all need to plant more trees to protect our natural environment and ecosystems and reduce the impact of climate change. We have to do this for the sake of our future generations,” he said.