The Minister for Forests Osea Naiqamu launched the Ridge to Reef Star Project at Muana Village, Tunuloa in Cakaudrove yesterday.
Through this project, the resource owners of Muana Village will engage in the protection of their marine and forest resources through the replanting of trees and releasing of clams into their fishing ground.
Minister Naiqamu said this commitment was a commendable move by the villagers considering that the Natewa-Tunuloa Peninsula was one of the few remaining biodiversity hotspots in Fiji.
“This peninsula admins and impacts on locally important marine food resources. With that rich biodiversity, Natewa and Tunuloa districts have a highly variable pattern of land use and vegetation,” he said.
“It has a combination of climate and topography that provides for various terrestrial habitats and ecosystems, from littoral coastal shrub-land and mangroves, to low and montane forests.
“The Tunuloa forests support abundant standing populations of indigenous timber trees species such as dakua makare, kaunicina, vesi, sa, masiratu, kaudamu, kauvula, yasiyasi, civicivi, makita and vure.”
He added that peninsula had also been identified as an Important Bird Area.
“However, with that rich biodiversity, the area is threatened by landscape degradation that have reduced the extent of connected landscapes and suitable habitats for several endemic bird species in the area, leading to increasing threats to their extinction,” Minister Naiqamu said
“By planting trees, we will be empowering the people of Natewa and Tunuloa districts to take ownership in the sustainable management of their forests resources, especially their precious ecosystem and biodiversity.
He said forests and trees would increasingly become more important in the global fight against climate change and the ability of countries to facilitate sustainable socio-economic development for its people.