Tuiwainunu, An inspiration to all Fijians
Isikeli Tuiwainunu is an inspiration to all Fijians, giving a message of hope, insight and courage to persevere, to plant, nurture and grow trees which to him represents life, growth, peace and nature.
In the face of unprecedented challenges faced by the nation, his solution is simple- plant and grow trees.
The eighty year old, Kanakana villager from the district of Tunuloa in Cakaudrove which is 82 kilometres from Savusavu Town has since last year started a nursery, potting sandalwood, vesi and other native tree species and fruit trees which he intends to sell to the Ministry of Forestry.
Despite being paralysed from the waist down due to an accident almost twenty years ago, Mr Tuiwainunu has continued to lead an active life.
The avid gardener is encouraged by the efforts of the current Government and the Ministry of Forestry and hopes that his nursery will contribute positively to the 30 Million Trees in 15 Years initiative.
A nature enthusiast, Mr Tuiwainunu has watched lush forests disappeared to make way for the development of roads, bridges and the construction of homes and buildings, not only in his hometown but across Fiji.
While he perceives development as a positive step because it allows us to progress as a nation, the former civil servant, said that while development has taken shape previous Governments have forgotten to restock natural resources that have been removed over the years to make way for urbanization, agriculture and infrastructural development.
“While we sacrifice nature to give way for development, we should also be thinking of ways and means to replace what we have lost in terms of our natural resources,” Mr Tuiwainunu said.
“From my point of view, out of all of Government’s on-going initiatives, the tree-planting programme is one of the best initiatives because Fijians are urged to plant trees and mangroves for their future generations.”
Mr Tuiwainunu, keeps tabs on local, regional and world news and is confident that nature-based solutions can help us solve our problems.
“With the COVID-19 global pandemic, I believe we in Fiji are very lucky as we have access to nature and fresh produce for food.
A team from the Ministry of Forestry had visited Mr Tuiwainunu’s nursery and advised him they would return once his seedlings reached a certain height whereby they would purchase them.
“Not only am I giving back to nature, but Government is also economically empowering me by purchasing the seedlings and this is a win-win situation for me,” Mr Tuiwainunu said.
The recent Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Assessment Report 2020 states that forest areas continue to decline at an alarming rate, protected areas are not concentrated in sites known for their biological diversity and species remain threatened with extinction.
The report further states that surging wildlife crime, land use changes such as deforestation, and habitat encroachment are primary pathways of transmission for emerging infectious diseases, including COVID-19, threatening public health and the world economy.
Minister of Forestry Honourable Osea Naiqamu said Government is doing its best in terms of building back better.
“The Ministry of Forestry has identified 20 degraded sites around Fiji and Tunuloa District is one of them. The degradation of forest areas is caused by unsustainable harvesting practices, which were not monitored for corrective actions to be taken.”
“The degradation and loss of forests threaten the survival of many species, and they reduce the ability of forests to provide essential services such as clean air and water, healthy soils for agriculture and climate regulation,” Minister Naiqamu said.
Minister Naiqamu said Government is looking at sustainable forest management and more importantly the need to foster awareness of the interconnections between people and the natural world to ensure more balanced coexistence.
He added that Fiji’s tree-planting and growing 30 Million Trees in 15 Years initiative is providing the opportunity for people to reconnect with nature and so far a total of 2.3 million trees and mangroves have been planted around the country.
The seedlings from Mr Tuiwainunu’s nursery and others like him will definitely contribute positively to restore a balance within nature as the Ministry of Forestry leads the coordination to plant Governments 30 million trees in 15 years.