Small Island Developing States

Overarching oolicy on planted forests in Fiji

Fiji has a forest area of around 1.1 million hectares, roughly 61% of the country’s total land mass. Of the total forests, 14.6% is planted forests dominated by mahogany and pine plantations. The estimated forestry plantation area in 2010 is 110,000 hectares and the forecast for 2020 is 200,000 hectares (Fiji FRA Report, 2010). Over 83% of land in Fiji is owned by the iTaukei  under the customary land tenure system and the iTaukei Land Trust Board, a Government statutory body, is mandated by law to oversee the administration of all iTaukei land transactions. Capturing the interests and influencing the effective participation of the iTaukei at the onset of any future plans to grow and expand the forestry sector is paramount given the landownership regime. Although revenue from the sector does not comprise a high percentage of GDP, the forest sector is expected to remain a significant driver of growth in the future (Fiji Forestry Outlook Study, 2010). The importance of forests lies in the rural sector by providing employment opportunities and supporting living standards to most of the 54% of the country’s population that lives in the rural areas.

Whilst growing trees is common and practiced widely in Fiji with some level of success over the years, the critical issue is the lack of strategic policy coordination at the top-policy planning echelon of Government and at provincial and district level that could bring together the different nationally related policies on planted forests and synthesize them into a few key priority policies which the country can focus on and which the Government can effectively implement if it is to improve its practices, grow its forests successfully thereby establishing a national forest estate and achieve sustainable management of its forestry resources. One major problem for Fiji is the conversion of forest-lands into other land use (such as agriculture) and its impact on the surrounding environment.  If this trend continues, the existing areas under forests as a whole may experience drastic reduction in size over the next decade.

At present, there are several policies and legal instruments in place which foster and support development and role of planted forests in Fiji. To name a few; the Fiji Forest Policy Statement (2007), Native Lands Trust Act  (1940), Fiji Pine Decree (1990), Endangered and Protected Species Act (2002), Fiji Rural Landuse Policy (2005), Mahogany Industry Development Decree (2010), Environment Management Act (2005), The Fiji REDD+ Policy (2011), Forest Decree (1992).  However, the lack of a strategic policy at the national level that regulates planted forests in the country causes inefficient planning and coordination among related government agencies, resulting in less desirable results such as loss of biodiversity, destruction of water sources and forfeiture of current financial and economic gains that the country now benefited from and enjoy. 

In recognizing this urgent need for an Overarching Policy on Planted Forests, the Government of Fiji formally approached FAO for technical assistance to address this situation by supporting the drafting of an overarching policy on planted forests that would act as an umbrella policy that regulates all types of planted forests activities and programmes in support of the establishment and expansion of a PFE and in line with other forest-related national policies. It will take into account current context and environment within-which the forestry sector operates, global commitments, conventions, national objectives and local aspirations of the people of Fiji. 

25 Feb 2015
 - 31 Dec 2015
Funding
US$ 87,384
Donors
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
PACIFIC