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Forest Fires Cause Huge Loss: Rokobiau

Forest Fires Cause Huge Loss: Rokobiau
Village youths and elders, listening to consultations from the Ministry of Forestry and other relevant bodies on August 29, 2018. Photo: Nacanieli Tuilevuka
August 30
10:00 2018

 

Fiji Pine Limited manager Pita Rokobiau reminded villagers of Visogo that burning a for­est is an offence.

In 2017, the Fiji Pine Limited lost 2500 hectares of trees because of fire.

Speaking on behalf of the Min­ister for Forest Osea Naiqamu, he said this was a significant loss to the company given that the area burned was almost 10 per cent of their production area.

“The loss of forests because of fires does not only result in eco­nomic loss, but also the loss of biodiversity, both above and below ground, accelerating soil loss,” Mr Rokobiau said.

“Frequent burning of some of our landscapes has badly degraded the land to the extent that it would take a very long time for the land to re­cover if at all.

“The uncontrolled burning in many areas is a major concern that threatens the survival of our for­ests and future planting of timber, bioenergy or reforestation of de­graded areas.

“The loss of forests is also causing siltation and drying up of some of our streams.

The total forest area for Vanua Levu is estimated at around 382,055 hectares or around 35 per cent of the total national forest area.

“Native forests make up around 82 per cent of this total cover, followed by Fiji Pine and mahogany planta­tions and mangrove at eight per cent, seven per cent and three per cent,” he said.

“With such a forest cover it ur­gently required a review of our nat­ural forests – like focussing more on the provision of ecosystem ser­vices and much less on the supply of timber.

“In this regard, we will need to en­sure that our plantation forests are established and managed as such that they can meet all our future timber needs,” he said.

Corporal Waisale Sokoiwasa of the Northern Community Polic­ing said the Forest Act prohibits any damage or destruction to for­est reserves or vegetation and this includes deliberate burning of our forests.

Corporal Sokoiwasa said anyone caught would be taken to task.

He stated that while they had not­ed an increase in forest fires in Va­nua Levu, they were not receiving any reports from the public.

“In most instances, the communi­ty knows the culprit, but family and traditional ties often prevent them from reporting,” he said.

Villagers questioned the bounda­ries in which they could act if they catch anyone burning their forests.

“They have been reminded that the village committee can arrest the person and then inform Police who will then come, re-arrest him and charge him accordingly,” he said.

“Anyone found guilty of the of­fence is liable for a fine not exceed­ing $10,000 or a term of imprison­ment not exceeding 12 months or both.” Edited by Percy Kean

nacanieli.tuilevuka@fijisun.com.fj

 

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