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Inventory to provide valuable insight into Fiji’s Forests

The Ministry of Forestry will this year conduct a National Forestry Inventory (NFI) to capture accurate information about the size, distribution, composition and condition of Fiji’s forests and trees.

A National Forestry Inventory (NFI) is an assessment regularly conducted to take stock of the existing forests, both natural and planted, and is done through the systematic collection data collection of forest information.

Essentially, the NFI involves the measurement of tree heights and diameters to calculate the different elevations and locations, assess the health of the forests, count the trees and structure of the forest and the important parameters measured including the species, diameter at breast height, tree height, site quality, age and defects.

The data analysis calculates the number of trees in a given area (acres, hectares), the volume in a given area and the basal area.

It is a common procedure to establish Permanent Sample Plots - of a standard size - in randomly selected locations, which are revisited each year for the collection of tree measurement data for calculating annual tree growth rates.

In order for a National Forest Inventory to be carried out, it is important that a methodology and guideline is developed. To this effect, the Ministry of Forestry through the REDD+ Unit sought assistance from the German consultancy firm – Unique Forestry who together with local forestry technical experts helped to create a methodology and guideline for the 2021 NFI.

The projected NFI methodology and guideline came about following an assessment of raw processed data and procedures from Fiji’s 2005 NFI and the last measurements of the PSPs that were conducted in 2016.

Permanent Secretary for Forestry Pene Baleinabuli said the last NFI was conducted in 2005 and with the onset of changes to land use through various forms including but not limited to agriculture, infrastructure development and natural disasters, it is important for Fiji to carry out another inventory of its forests.

“A NFI is essential for the collection of comprehensive information and for developing and monitoring policies and guidance that support the sustainable management of Fiji’s forests,” he said.

Mr. Baleinabuli said that Fiji has conducted 3 inventories of the country’s forests – in 1969, 1991 and 2005. The findings of these inventories are documented in official reports.

“All three previous NFIs were focused on the availability of commercial timber in Fiji’s natural forests so the current data has limited use in a broader context which could include having information on non-timber forest products and even on the value of carbon.”

He said that for this year’s NFI, field data collection will also include forest carbon measurements and biodiversity.

The NFI, he said will also define policy and trade decisions, national and international reporting and the direct and indirect contribution of forests to reducing the effects of climate change and alleviating poverty.

The collation of information of our forests is also critical in a COVID-19 era with the general expectation that resource-based sectors like forestry could help re-ignite economic growth.

“The NFI will also look at other related forestry sectors such as the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) requirement of completeness and will look at the integration of agriculture, land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sectors from previous guidelines (2003 GPG-LULUCF) into one sector called the agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU),” PS Baleinabuli said.

The AFOLU involves six land use categories which covers emissions and removals from the terrestrial biosphere and provides carbon and GHG estimation methodologies for carbon pools in land-use categories. The six land use classifications include Forest land, Cropland, Grassland, Wetland, Settlement and Other land.

For REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, Forest Conservation, Sustainable Forest Management and Carbon Stock Enhancement) work, an NFI is essentially to estimate carbon stock change that meets the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) requirements and to capture biodiversity.

Conducting an NFI is also one of the key sources of relevant data for national Green House Gas (GHG) reporting, Forest Reference Emissions Level and Forest Reference Level (FREL/FRL) construction and reporting at international level.

NFIs are a key information source for modern approaches to forest management and associated planning processes.

This NFI 2021 will provide necessary information and insight into the condition of Fiji’s forests because keeping the forests healthy is important for sustainable forestry management.  

Mr. Baleinabuli said the NFI will be conducted over the next six months and it is likely that the updated information on Fiji’s forests will be publicly available by December 2021.

He acknowledged the assistance of the World Bank through the Forests Carbon Partnership Facility which has supported Fiji’s REDD+ programme since 2013, and the German Technical Cooperation which helped establish Fiji’s REDD+ programme in 2009. 

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