TREE PLANTING A LIVING LEGACY FOR THE FUTURE

Tree planting is important as trees and forests improve life of mankind. With the help of the sun, trees produce carbohydrates and support life by absorbing carbon dioxide from the environment and release oxygen. Trees cool the environment by absorbing the heat from the sun as well as provide shade to homes and streets.

Trees also clean the air by absorbing harmful chemical such as nitrogen oxide and methane and remove dust particles from the air by absorbing them in their leaves. Trees also stop water pollution by breaking down rainfall before it reaches rivers, streams and the soil.

With all the benefits of why tree planting is important or the need to keep our trees it gives no reason why a nation should not consider tree planting or reforestation and afforestation a paramount activity.

It is also for this reason, that the Fijian Government through the Ministry of Forestry embarked on a 4Million Trees in 4Years (4MT4Y) planting initiative which was launched by H.E the President Jioji Konrote in January of this year. In doing so the Ministry of Forestry is proud to announce that for 2019 – Fiji has surpassed its 1 million mark.

Fiji Exceeds 1 Million Target

Fiji’s national tree planting initiative surpassing the 1 million target for 2019 signifies that together as a nation we can contribute to addressing the effects of climate change.

Minister for Forestry Hon. Osea Naiqamu announced earlier during the week that Government through the Ministry of Forestry had recorded an achievement of more than 1 million trees being planted since January this year.

The Minister in thanking the people of Fiji for supporting the tree-planting initiative said the achievement needs to be celebrated for several reasons.

“First and foremost, it reflects Fiji’s determination to protect our environment, water sources and coastal communities.

“It shows our determination to build climate resilient communities and contribute to the global movement to address climate change,” he said.

In the past 10 months, the Ministry of Forestry has worked tirelessly with landowners and the public and private sectors in highlighting the importance of trees, forests and forest resources in our daily livelihood. Setting tree planting targets is one way the Ministry of Forestry is investing in forests and forestry representing an investment in people and their livelihoods, especially the rural poor, women and youth.

“As the Minister of Forestry, it is inspiring to see that the people of Fiji are developing a deeper appreciation for the value of trees and forests in addressing environmental issues and contributing to their socio-economic development,” Minister Naiqamu said.

“This massive tree-planting initiative is also part of Government’s responsibility to our youth – the future of our country. It is part of our investment in the young people to ensure that they live in a safe, prosperous and sustainable Fiji,” he added.

Having planted 1million trees is a great achievement and the Ministry of Forestry has set its goal in planting 2 million trees next year in alignment to the Prime Minister Mr Voreqe Bainimarama’s statement during the World Wildlife Fund Leaders for Nature and People event in New York in September that Fiji has the opportunity to plant 30 million trees in 15 years.

“The new tree-planting target is part of Fiji’s nature-based solutions to the threat of climate change and this should send a clear message that even though our carbon emissions are very minimal, we are not just going to wait for highly industrialised countries to take action,” Minister Naiqamu said.

The Ministry of Forestry has repositioned itself to coordinate this new planting target starting from January 2020 to plant 2million trees.

“We have allocated about 60 per cent of our staff and both finances and assets like vehicles specifically to plant trees and help address climate change while also growing our economy,” Minister Naiqamu said.

Having reallocated its resources, the Ministry of Forestry’s priority areas include the planting or replanting of highly degraded areas, intention to increase the capacity of the current nurseries to supply at least 60 percent of seedlings, train and empower communities to establish nurseries, outsource at least 20 per cent of planting material to the private sector to encourage involvement and strengthen efforts to facilitate the private sector’s ability to grow the economy from Fiji’s forest resources in a sustainable manner.

Minister Naiqamu said it is anticipated that the massive tree planting programme will also increase the forestry sector’s contribution to the nation’s economic growth and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“This renewed effort to plant trees will save our nation and our planet and that in the ultimate is the most critical consideration,” Minister Naiqamu said.

Sustainable Forests and Climate Change

With the Ministry of Forestry’s vision of Sustainable Forests, Our Future, the achievement realizes some issues currently on the international agenda that are pertinent to forestry such as Climate Change, Sustainable Development, Clean Water Supply and Poverty Eradication.

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2018 report, “Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. (high confidence).”

In addition, the report states that the amount of CO2 that is already in the atmosphere due to human activities such as burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas have already warmed the world by 1° C is on track to get up to + 1.5° C in a decade or two and that number will continue to increase if there is no immediate global action to reduce emissions that are already in the earth’s atmosphere.

While the IPCC report includes urgent recommendations for reducing the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through the use of renewable energy it also includes a section on the need for reforestation and ecosystem restoration to decreasing or removing the carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere.

Sustainable Forests and the SDGs

Fiji is one of 193 countries that have officially adopted the United Nations agenda entitled Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which includes the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Ministry of Forestry’s focus is on SDG 15 Life on Land which aims to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial eco-systems, sustainable manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

According to the SDGs Knowledge Platform, forests have a significant role in reducing the risk of natural disasters which include floods, droughts, extreme cyclones and landslides. In addition, forests mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration, contribute to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air and protect watersheds, which supply 75% of freshwater worldwide.

Minister Naiqamu in announcing the 1 Million tree planting achievement this week said, “We all know that without a habitable planet for our children to inherit, all of our work to achieving the SDGs will be futile.

“But by working together and fighting common ground for the future of our nation and the world, we will win this greatest battle of our lives over climate change and leave a legacy we can all be proud of.”

For more information or interviews, please contact:
Ms Mela Katonivualiku - Ministry of Forestry
Public Relations Officer.
Mobile: 9904 893 Email: mela.tuilevuka@gmail.com