Landowners in Vanua Levu (Fiji) who own large tracks of native forests have been encouraged to use their forests wisely.
Selected clans from (Cakaudrove, Bua and Macuata) are currently been educated on their rights and obligations under the new Fiji Forest Policy 2007.
Spearheading the Permanent Forest Estates Awareness Project is Nature Fiji-MareqetiViti (NFMV) in collaboration with the Department of Forestry and Birdlife International.
NFMV conservation coordinator Nunia Thomas said the awareness campaign, which started on August 27, follows revelations that forests in Fiji have been lost to unsustainable agriculture and logging.
For the past two weeks, Ms Thomas said they have visited various villages in the North.
At selected villages, they explained to landowners the roles they should play to ensure sustainable forest management.
She said they established a forum in which landowners can voice their questions and opinions about the Fiji Forest Policy to the Department of Forestry.
The project is funded by a grant from the Jensen Charity Foundation supported by the Department of Forestry and BirdLife International.
“We have specifically targeted clans (mataqali) who still own large tracks of native forest.
Ms Thomas said landowners were keen to better understand the importance of their environment especially the land resources.
At Ravuka Village in Namuka, Macuata, the forum received a positive feedback from participants and the first mataqali signed up to indicate that they would like to develop sustainable forestry on their lands.
Ms Thomas said the feedback from the first two weeks of awareness campaign saw that majority of landowners were not aware of the new Fiji Forest Policy.
“This is something new for them. It is a very positive feedback because they have changed their mindset.”
“A lot of questions on the Fiji Forests Harvesting Code and Practice and other issues relating to logging concessions were raised which we have referred to the Department of Forests,” she added.
Nabalebale Village headman, Iowane Larua said the Nasawana mataqali who own large native forests were glad to receive the educational forum.
Mr Larua said this has changed the mindset of the landowners to focus on sustainable land management for their future generations.
Source: Fiji Sun.