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Editorial: Forests also Important for Our future Survival in Climate change battle

Editorial: Forests also Important for Our future Survival  in Climate  change battle
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva, on June 3, 2017. Photo: Jone Luvenitoga
November 16
13:17 2017

The chaotic scene on the Queens Rd at Veisari on Tuesday should be a timely reminder to all of us about the environmental impact of human activity and climate change.

We cannot dismiss the simple views of a Veisari resident, Sereana Luvuci, who blamed the cutting of trees and the heavy rain for the landslide.

She said that because trees had gone and rain had loosened the soil, a landslide was inevitable.

Her statement supported what the Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Climate Change, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said about our forests and their importance in our climate change battle.

He spoke about deforestation (cutting down of trees) and its link to climate change.

Science tells us that trees produce oxygen using energy from sunlight.

While they are cut down to produce timber or cleared to establish farms and new developments, there needs to be important environment assessment  to ensure developments are sustainable and minimise disaster risks.

When forests are destroyed the habitat of animals and plants is also destroyed.

The process, called deforestation, also drives climate change, says  National Geographic.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum told COP23 in Bonn that forests would help us lower global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But that would not be possible if we did not tackle deforestation and forest degradation, he added.

“Forests are a large part of our current problem (in terms of continuing emissions from deforestation) but an even larger part of the solution (in terms of ending those emissions, and enhancing the safe and natural carbon capture storage function of standing and regrowing forests).”

Obviously, the key here is to strike a balance between development and preservation of our forests to ensure sustainable development.

While logging is important to produce timber, we must replant to make the industry sustainable in the long term.

One of the biggest threats to our forest resources is natural disasters.

It is interesting to note from Mr Sayed-Khaiyum’s statement that despite the natural value of forests, they do not offer a financial return on investing in their conservation, protection and management that can compete with the more destructive uses.

He says there are no well established markets for forest carbon or the broader benefits they provide despite being critical to our very survival.

Forests have therefore been unable to attract private sector finance at any scale, he adds.

“The cold hard reality is that protecting forests at any scale requires capital and significant expenditure like any green infrastructure project,” he said.

This is an area where small island economies like Fiji remain vulnerable and therefore need urgent financial assistance.

Let us hope  that by the end of COP23, this need is recognised and addressed.

 

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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