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Forestry Ministry Targets Gender Equality

The Ministry of Forests is attempting to ensure that there is gender balance in its pool of trained forest management supervisors, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard yesterday. During submissions
19 Jan 2018 12:13
Forestry Ministry  Targets Gender Equality
SODELPA MP and Public Accounts Committee member Aseri Radrodro at Parliament on January 18, 2018.Photo:Vilimoni Vaganalau.

The Ministry of Forests is attempting to ensure that there is gender balance in its pool of trained forest management supervisors, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard yesterday.

During submissions the ministry highlighted that more than 477 people are trained annually as forest management supervisors and 1007 for machine operators.

PAC member and SODELPA Member of Parliament Aseri Radrodro questioned the ministry on its gender policy when such trainings were conducted.

Ministry’s representative Jale Turaga said the ministry was gearing towards this and working on it.

“Our target every year when conducting training is to have 40 per cent females and 60 per cent male participation and given the type of training and nature of training to show gender balance,” he said.

He said since the introduction of gender balance in government the ministry has considered this in its annual corporate plan.

Ministry of Forests Acting Permanent Secretary Bernadette Welch said the Ministry was finalising its strategic development plan and was incorporating the whole of the civil service gender policy into all areas of the strategic development plan.

Meanwhile, about 30,000 hectares of native forests are harvested annually.

Conservator of Forests, Sanjana Lal said the ministry, however, has the potential to harvest 100,000 hectares.

She said, however, the reason they were not harvesting such a significant number of trees was because there had been an increase of activity in the harvesting of pine and mahogany.

Rate of extraction.

PAC member and Member of Parliament Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu questioned the ministry if there was a standard rate of extraction for exotic / native forest.

Ms Lal said for pine and mahogany they had their own limits and for the natural forests, the ministry has a diameter table which comes under the native forest regulation.

She said this was under the Native Land Trust Act since 1985.

Ratu Naiqama asked what was the rate of waste that went with the standard rate of extraction and how much of it was wasted during logging?

Ms Lal said 50 per cent of the timber was wasted in the sawmills stating that if there was a production figure of 100,000 from the forests, what came out of the sawmill was about 50,000.

“So it is actually not wasted but we are doing value adding, so for the communities we have other projects like subsidy projects,” Ms Lal said.

“Like we give communities smaller machines and they use that to do carvings and other stuff from the waste timber. It is also utilised as firewood.”

Ratu Naiqama said there were a lot of trees that were been cut down in logging areas and were being left behind in the forest areas.

“We know at times most trees are cut and it doesn’t end up in the mill. It’s a waste.” he said.

Ms Lal said the length of the log removed would make up 70 per cent and branches and all left behind was about 30 per cent.

“We have opportunities available, we have a Bio Energy mill in Nabou so those waste can be taken to the mill, and it’s up to the landowners,” she said.

She said there were no monitoring system for minimal waste, for native forest as it could not be managed because the trees grew naturally.

And for managed plantations like pine and mahogany, Ms Lal said it depended on the quality of seeds to be controlled.

She added there were not many policies for this but awareness had been made for landowners.

Edited by Mohammed Zulfikar

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