Mua Native Tree Nursery to Play Part in Pacific-Ecosystem Climate Project
Laying the foundation for reforestation and agroforestry in Taveuni, the Mua Native Tree Nursery was handed over to the Ministry of Forestry and the Ministry of Agriculture by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP) as part of the Pacific Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change (PEBACC) Project on Wednesday 29th July, 2020 at Mua Taveuni.
In his opening address, the Ministry for Forestry Director North Mr. Moape Lotawa said that “Native trees are part of our culture, our identity, and our heritage. Through logging and other less sustainable land-use practices, our native tree stocks have become less and sparse making it more difficult to show the younger generation the value of these trees when they don’t grow as abundantly as they once did.”
“This nursery will help to restore the balance by restocking native trees into identified deforested areas in Taveuni. Native trees adapt well to the local Fijian climate so trees like Vesi and Bauvudi will once again stand tall in our forests.”
The Native Tree Nursery was constructed by SPREP through the PEBACC project in collaboration with the Ministry of Forestry in 2018. The nursery was constructed to supply seedlings to the Taveuni Reforestation and Agro-forestry Programme, an ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) programme under PEBACC supported by the Ministries of Forestry, Agriculture and iTaukei Affairs.
Echoing similar sentiments, Ministry of Agriculture Senior Research Officer Mr. Rohit Lal said that “replanting of Agroforestry and native trees are part of sustainable farming systems which the Ministry advocates. And for this reason the Ministry of Agriculture supports this initiative, of setting up the native tree nursery at our Research and Development Centre at Mua”.
The The nursery will not only supply native tree seedlings to our farmers but will ensure reforestation of our garden island. These in return will ensure sustainable land and farm management for our future generations”.
The nursery can hold up to 50,000 seedlings. Currently, native trees being nurtured in the facility include Vesi, Yasi, Dilo, Tavola, Kaudamu, Dakua, Makadre, Sea, Dawa, Duvula, Male, Ivi, Moivi and Kaunicina. Seedlings of Soursop, Avocado and Vetiver grass are also grown in the nursery.
“The nursery provides communities with access to viable healthy native tree seedlings to help efforts to rehabilitate their watersheds and agricultural lands,” said Mr Herman Timmermans, PEBACC Project Manager.
“To date over 4,000 native and fruit tree seedlings have been planted in the districts of Wainikeli, Cakaudrove and Vuna under this initiative.”
With the current phase of PEBACC ending at the end of July, the Ministry of Forestry has agreed to take over the management, maintenance, and further development of the nursery. This includes the appointment of a permanent Nursery Manager and delivery of seedlings to partners. In the interests of inter-Ministerial cooperation, the Ministry of Agriculture supports the location of the nursery at the Mua Agricultural Station.
There are three forest reserves in Taveuni - Taveuni Forest Reserve with 11,160 hectares of land, Ravilevu Nature Reserve with 4108 hectares of land and Bouma National Heritage Park with 1417 hectares of land. These reserves support a wider diversity of native tree species and are conserving sensitive resources such as steep slopes, fragile young volcanic soils and habitat for rare endemic and native flora and fauna species.
The forest reserves protect more than 100 streams and four rivers. However, current trends of widespread soil degradation on the island and the increasing demand for fertile agricultural land mainly for taro (Colocasia esculenta) and yaqona (Piper methysticum) production is threatening this forest reserve. An assessment of these forest reserves by the Secretariat of Pacific Community in 2015 showed that farmers are encroaching into forest reserves to get short term yield gains without realising the negative consequences of their activity on the environment. According to them encroachment of farming activities into forest reserves will continue unless sustainable farming practices are developed to maintain higher yields in their existing farms.
The Pacific Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change Project is a five-year initiative implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in partnership with the governments of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. The project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag. The Project focuses on strengthening and protecting the role of natural ecosystem services to enhance resilience to climate change.