New station to serve communities on Garden Island
People on the Garden Island of Taveuni can now access forestry-related services right at their doorstep.
week, the Ministry of Forestry opened its office at Waiyevo with a full time
officer based at the station.
Chargehand Peni Bari of Nakorotubu, Ra, will be overseeing the protection of the Ministry’s two forest reserves, extension services and replanting programmes.
Welcoming this, the Ministry of Forestry Permanent Secretary, Pene Baleinabuli, said part of promoting the forestry agenda was to have staff presence in communities throughout Fiji, and especially so in key forests and biodiversity areas.
Mr Baleinabuli said Taveuni being the latest station for the Ministry was a milestone achievement as the island was home to the country’s largest forest and nature reserves.
Under its portfolio, the Ministry has eight nature reserves and 15 forest reserves.
The Taveuni Forest Reserve, established in 1914, has a total land area of 27, 900 acres. The Ravilevu Nature Reserve, with 9930 acres, was established in 1959.
He asserted that it was crucial that a staff member be stationed there to deal with the difficulties raised by allegations of encroachments in these reserves.
"We have received reports of people farming and building within our reserves, burning or cutting down trees. These reserves were set up for the purpose of protecting natural resources, ensuring clean water, educating the public on Fiji’s native and endemic flora and fauna and also promoting the sustainable use of natural resources," Mr Baleinabuli said.
He said communities have also expressed interest in the Government's renewed efforts to expand Fiji’s forest cover through land restoration such as tree-planting, which is in line with the national target of planting 30 million trees over the course of 15 years.
"It is crucial for the Government, through the Ministry of Forestry, to have our people based there when we talk about promoting the forestry agenda, about land restoration, which involves tree planting and caring for the native forests and nature reserves, and about protecting and enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services. As part of Fiji's green economy and recovery from the ongoing effects of climate change, we can collaborate with communities to promote the national land restoration programme,” he added.