Kanawi Pouru, Forestry Program Co-ordinator2 Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Suva, Fiji
This Action Plan was developed by members of Pacific community at the Pacific Sub-Regional Workshop on Forest and Tree Genetic Resources held in Apia, Samoa from April 12-16, 1999. This workshop was jointly organized and supported by SPRIG/AusAID, FAO Forestry Department and South Regional Office for the Pacific Islands, SPC Forestry Program, SPREP, IPGRI3 and the Samoan Government's Forestry Division (see Forest Genetic Resources No 27).
The Sub-Regional Action Plan developed during the Apia workshop was recently tabled and discussed at the 9th Pacific Islands Heads of Forestry meeting held from 8-12 May 2000 in Nadi, Fiji. The Heads of Forestry endorsed the Action Plan for donor support and implementation. The objective of the Action Plan is to outline practical actions that can be taken at the international, regional, national and local levels to address the loss of forest and tree genetic resources in the Pacific Islands.
The Action Plan is organised into four themes as follows:
1. Tree Species Priorities for Genetic Resource Operations and
Identification of species/operational priorities was carried out in three working groups, one each focusing on the broad geographic regions of;
The Working Groups adopted slightly differing approaches to identifying about 20 common priority indigenous tree species, a limited number of top priority introduced species, and in identifying operational priorities for each selected species.
Three indigenous tree species were
identified as being among the top ten priorities in all parts of the
All three species are widely distributed, produce highly valued timbers, and are among the most highly valued woods for woodcarving and boat-building. In the case of Instia bijuga, it is also found in inland lowland forests as well as along rivers and streams.
In terms of regional priorities for action,
the next most important species identified were:
These were followed closely by:
The two highest priority introduced trees for the Pacific Islands were Swietenia macrophylla (big-leaf mahogany) and Pinus caribaea (Caribbean pine), both originating from tropical Central America.
There are also several genera and species, some of which have important indigenous species in their native Pacific range, and which constitute priority species where they have been introduced elsewhere in the Pacific islands. These include Acacia spp. (especially A. mangium, A. koa and A. spirorbis), Casuarina equisetifolia (beach she oak or ironwood) and Flueggea flexuosa (namamau or poumuli).
In terms of conservation, it was recommended that urgent action be taken on the in situ conservation of the genetic resources of Santalum species in all three Pacific sub-regions, and also other valuable commercial timber and multipurpose species and those species growing in ecologically sensitive ecosystems. Ex situ conservation was noted as a priority for various planted tree species in which desired cultivars have been selected, such as Barringtonia, Canarium, Pandanus, Pometia and Terminalia catappa. These include some of the species identified for in situ conservation.
2. Conservation, Sustainable Use and Management of Forests and
Throughout the Pacific Islands, and especially in Melanesia, there is a need to improve forest management to ensure a more sustainable use of forest and tree genetic resources. This is inclusive of improved land-use planning and multiple-use management of forested areas. Improved forest management is also a decisive factor for in situ conservation activities.
It was strongly recommended that:
3. Germplasm Collection, Exchange and Access
At present the region's major forest plantations are based mainly on introduced tree species and germplasm. Relatively little is known about the region's indigenous tree species and basic information may be lacking on important biological characteristics such as seed storage character and susceptibility to pests and diseases.
Planned activities will include:
4. Institutional Strengthening, Training Needs and Regional
Most Pacific countries and territories have small Forestry and Environment Departments, with limited personnel and budget. There is a need to ensure that staff are well trained and informed in the subject areas of conservation, management and utilization of forest and tree genetic resources. The depth of skills and expertise in the region needs to be enhanced through the balanced application of both longer-term University training and through technical hands-on training.
Regional collaboration needs to be maintained and strengthened, especially in the field of research and development and conservation of species occurring in several countries and territories.
More specifically, the following needs and
priorities have been identified:
The Action Plan sets ambitious but realistic and practicable technical goals. In order to reach them and produce tangible results, the Plan will require voluntary actions from national actors to ensure solid implementation. Current international, regional and bilateral organizations, mechanisms and instruments, will be invited to contribute to its success. In particular, the planned AusAID-funded SPRIG Phase II, a 5-year project which will endeavor to implement key elements of the Action Plan, is expected to commence in early 2001. The lead collaborating agency, during the SPRIG-II Project execution and implementation, will be the relevant Forestry Department or Division of participating countries (which may include Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu). For further information, please refer to paper "South Pacific Regional Initiative on Forest Genetic Resources - Phase II" by Lex Thomson in this bulletin.1Received July 2000. Original language: English