Honourable Osea Naiqamu - Minister for Forestry address at the launch of the Ministry's Revamped website and tree planting dashboard
HONOURABLE OSEA NAIQAMU
MINISTER FOR FORESTRY
· The Permanent Secretary
· The Conservator of Forests
· Senior Executives, Directors and staff of the Ministry
· Ladies and gentlemen
I am honoured to launch the Ministry of Forestry’s revamped website and tree-planting dashboards.
The website has new and innovative features that are aimed at better informing everyone who is interested in forestry and nature.
The new features will also ensure the efficient delivery of our services to the people of Fiji.
Specifically, we hope to encourage more Fijians to actively participate in Fiji’s tree-planting revolution.
This has now become one of our core functions aimed at protecting the environment, enhancing biodiversity, and addressing climate change.
Fiji’s tree-planting initiative, which His Excellency the President launched in January last year, is gaining much traction.
With the help of the communities, we have so far planted over 1.9 Million trees and mangroves, covering close to 2,000 hectares.
We are launching two tree-planting dashboards today.
The first is the public tree-planting dashboard. This dashboard will enable any member of the public who plant trees to log in and provide details such as their names and contact, the types and number of trees planted, the location and photographs.
The Ministry will then validate the information through physically checking on the ground before the details are transferred into the second dashboard.
The second dashboard will contain only the validated information. This dashboard has so far recorded over 1.2 million trees and mangroves. The rest of the trees and mangroves will be added into the dashboard as soon as the information have been physically validated.
The dashboards will keep the public informed as we progress with our ultimate goal of planting 30 million trees and mangroves within 15 years.
I have every confidence that we can achieve this tree-planting target through the commitment of our staff, the willingness of the Fijian public, our partnership with the private sector, the support of our development partners, and through our investment in technology.
I have heard of drones being used to plant trees, and I hope the Ministry will also consider venturing into this technology soon.
The important reminder for all of us today is that we need to plant more trees and grow more forests.
Trees and forests are home to over 80 percent of all species including plants, animals, and insects. Forests are increasingly becoming the most tangible nature-based solution to addressing climate change through offsetting carbon emissions.
So, the more forests we have, the healthier our Planet will become, and the more assured the future will be for our youth and children.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we are also aware, forests and trees could also be sources of livelihood, provided we use them sustainably.
A key feature of the revamped website is the inclusion of an online application form for export and import licenses.
The online system will enable the Ministry to issue licenses within 24 to 48 hours, provided all relevant information is provided.
Making the application forms available online is part of the Government’s response to the ease of doing business. It is in line with calls made by forestry sector stakeholders in recent consultations.
Importantly, it is part of Government’s efforts to help reignite the economy in the new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In saying this, the Ministry anticipates an abundance of timber from the maritime zone in particular from the pine trees planted in Kadavu, Gau and the Lau Group of Islands.
In Kadavu alone, up to 90 percent of trees in the 11 pine schemes have been affected by Tropical Cyclone Harold, thus creating the urgency to harvest them.
The immediate focus now is on rehabilitating houses that were destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Harold.
I am very pleased to note that our men and women on the ground are helping the communities to harvest the trees and re-purposing them for houses.
This effort is progressing well through our ongoing collaboration with the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development, the Ministry of Housing and Community Development, and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, among other agencies.
The plan is to rebuild homes before trading any surplus timber.
Having a steady supply of good quality treated pine timber will no doubt be welcomed by the local construction industry.
Government is also encouraging the export of any surplus timber to help generate much needed revenue.
On this note, ladies and gentlemen, I have the pleasure of launching the Ministry of Forestry’s revamped website and Fiji’s tree-planting dashboards.
Vinaka Vakalevu, and May God continue to Bless Fiji.