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Knowledge is Power for Forester Shorab – a recipient of the prestigious Chevening Scholarship

Growing up in a small town didn’t stop Mohammed Shorab from having big dreams. Mohammed was born in Labasa and grew up with a fascination for geography and computers. It’s this interest that mapped his career in Geographic Information System (GIS).

A geography graduate, Mohammed joined the Ministry of Forestry in 2019 as Forestry Officer – Resource Monitoring (GIS) within the Forest Resource Assessment and Conversation (FRAC) unit. The FRAC Unit is responsible for the management of forest information systems and databank, management of natural forests through permanent sample plots, mapping and surveys of forest boundaries and the facilitation of forests international and regional conventions and agreements.

Since joining the Ministry, Mohammed has introduced advanced technology that has enabled the Ministry to develop live 2D and 3D web maps and an online planted areas dashboard which allows staff to keep track of the number of trees planted and locations.

The web maps are integrated into web applications that contain all of the Ministry’s first-hand mapping information which enables senior management to make timely decisions on forest operations.

Permanent Secretary for Forestry Pene Baleinabuli said “this innovation has proved invaluable especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when movement was greatly restricted, but thanks to the maps, management was still able to have access to forestry information”. 

Another innovation that is popular with Forestry worldwide is drones. As Drones are able to monitor tree populations, landscapes and access hard to reach areas, the Ministry of Forestry has also invested in this technology with Mohammed adding Chief Remote Pilot to his list of responsibilities.

Not one to shy away from challenges, Mohammed was always looking for opportunities to realise his dreams.

Last week, the Labasa native formally started his on-line studies as a recipient of the Chevening Scholarship funded by the Government of the United Kingdom. And he is doing this while waiting for confirmation of his flight to Wales where he will be studying for his Master of Science majoring in Environmental Conservation and Management. 

The Chevening scholarship provides the opportunity for scholars to pursue their Masters programmes in the UK for a year. Successful Chevening candidates come from a diverse range of countries and backgrounds, but they all demonstrate the passion, vision and skills needed to shape a better world.

“I’m grateful to the Ministry of Forestry for believing in me and I know that the knowledge I gain over the next year will enable me to further advance the forestry monitoring systems and conservation”.

 Mr. Baleinabuli said that the Ministry shares in Mohammed’s excitement.

“The Chevening Scholarship is a prestigious and among the highly sought-after scholarships around the world. And to have one of our very own receiving this is such a huge thrill,” he said.   

“This essentially means that Mohammed has done exceptionally well as an individual to secure the scholarship. And the scholarship board has recognised the value of his work in the Ministry and the potential for him to add even greater value to Fiji when he completes his studies.

“So, Mohammed and his family will be the first beneficiaries of this scholarship followed very closely by the Ministry and Fiji as a Nation,” he said.

 The Ministry is proud to continue profiling its staff who are helping promote Fiji’s forestry agenda. We focus on Mohammed this week. 

1.      Can you tell us about yourself?

My name is Mohammed Abdullah Bin Shorab, I’m 27 years old. I was born and brought up in Labasa and am happily married to Sehana Shorab. 

2.      How long have you been with the Ministry of Forestry?

I have been working for the Ministry of Forestry for almost 3 years now as Forestry Officer – Resource Monitoring (GIS) and as the Chief Remote Pilot. 

3.     Please describe the work you do at the Ministry?

       My work involves the monitoring, reporting and verification of Fiji’s forests using satellite imagery, drones, and the latest available technology. I support the senior management’s decision-making process and international reporting obligations with evidence from satellite imagery, drone imagery and ground verification. I also manage the overall drone operations of the Ministry.

4.      What are some of your key achievements while working for the Ministry?

    I believe that my achievements in the Ministry have been an achievement for Fiji. Two of my milestone achievements in the Ministry are the development of dynamic 2D and 3D web maps with near real time data and the introduction of drones for sustainable forest management.

 5.      Congratulations on your Chevening Scholarship. Can you please tell us what you will be studying and how it will benefit Fiji?

I will be studying for a Master of Science in Environmental Conservation and Management Degree at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Wales, United Kingdom. My studies will be mostly around Environmental Management and Environmental Conservation. 

I will bring back new and advanced knowledge which will help us conserve and manage Fiji’s natural resources in a sustainable manner. This will help Fiji to meet global targets in tackling the impacts of the climate change. My dissertation will allow me to research on the latest technological innovations which Fiji can adopt to help address climate change.

6.      The Chevening Scholarship has a year-long selection process. What was your experience like in applying and getting selected for the scholarship?

Through my work experience I was able to identify the knowledge and skills gap that needed to be filled in Fiji. Knowing this and the urgent need for Fiji’s development gave me much confidence which helped with my application screening questions. I have very clear short-term and long-term goals and they involve contributing to fighting climate change and to serving the people of Fiji and I believe that the Chevening Scholarship was looking for these attributes. 

7.      What is your advice to youths of Fiji who will one day take the same career path?

Respect everyone. Have your parent’s blessings and in whatever you do, do it for Fiji not for yourself because your greatest success is your service to the people of Fiji.

I would like to thank the Government of Fiji and the Government of the United Kingdom for giving me this opportunity to upgrade my qualification. Importantly, I would also like to thank my parents through whose blessings I am what I am today.


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