← Go back to Press Releases
Blog Image

Loss of Totem Trees a Concern for Villagers

Villages in the island of Ovalau have committed to planting their totem trees to ensure that their children continue to have a sense of identity and belonging to the land.

This commitment came amidst the Minister for Forestry, Honourable Osea Naiqamu’s 30MillionTreesin15Years (30MT15Y) consultation this week. The villages include Rukuruku, Taviya, Yaravudi, Vatukalo and Nasinu.

 Vatukalo village headman Mr Maikali Taqa said their totem tree is the ‘Marasa’ or scientifically known as Storckiella Vitiensis.

“When any Fijian is born, they belong to a yavusa or mataqali which also has its links to the fishes in the sea and the trees,” Mr Taqa said.

“This link of having a totem tree or fish is a sense of identity for any Fijian and for us here it is a pity that some of our children do not know what a ‘marasa’ tree looks like.”

Mr Taqa said the visit by Minister Naiqamu is a blessing as they will now be supplied the marasa seedlings to plant on their land.

“This will enable us to teach our children about their links to nature and what their totem tree is.”

Minister Naiqamu thanked the villagers for their concerns and their interest in planting native trees and other tree species.

“One of the main objectives of the 30MillionTreesIn15Years initiative is to ensure our native trees are being replanted so that our sense of identity with nature is not lost,” Mr Naiqamu said.

“We are not only planting these native trees for the sake of our children’s cultural identity or heritage but at the same time we are also contributing to them having a sustainable future. And this is critically important more than ever as the impacts of climate change and pandemics like COVID-19 are collectively placing significant pressure on the use of natural resources.

According to the United Nations 2019 Report titled Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’, nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history.

The rate of species extinction is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.

The report states that the health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend on is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

It further states that deforestation and desertification – caused by human activities and climate change – pose major challenges to sustainable development and have affected the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. 

Forests are vitally important for sustaining life on Earth, and play a major role in the fight against climate change. And investing in land restoration is critical for improving livelihoods, reducing vulnerabilities, and reducing risks for the economy.

In their efforts to ensure they provide a sustainable future for future generations, the 12 villages in the districts of Levuka, Lovoni, Nasinu, and Bureta that Minister Naiqamu visited requested to have Nursery Attendant trainings.

The two-day training for each village will enhance their knowledge from sowing seeds to soil mixture and how to properly attend to their seedlings in the nurseries.

Mr Naiqamu said his tour of Levuka was quite different from other provinces as villagers were very receptive and showed great interest during the consultations.

So far the Ministry of Forestry has planted over 2.6 million trees and mangroves since the initiative was launched by His Excellency the President Major-General (Ret'd) Jioji Konrote in January last year. Since then Minister Naiqamu has travelled to 260 villages out of the 1194 registered villages in Fiji, conducting consultations on Fiji's tree planting revolution. 

← Go back to Press Releases