By Repeka Nasiko
THE biggest driver of deforestation in the country is agriculture clearance.
This was revealed by Secretariat of the Pacific Community and International Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) land use planning and facilitation specialist Christine Fong.
Ms Fong said while agriculture clearance should not be stopped, it needed better land use planning.
"We are not saying to stop agriculture clearance but we are saying that there should be better management of how we progress with our agriculture activities through better land use planning, for instance promoting agroforestry or intensifying agriculture in a small area so you don't have to repeatedly clear forest."
She said they had been working closely with government and other stakeholders in formulating a reducing deforestation and forest degradation strategy (National REDD Plus Strategy) to address these drivers.
"The main objective of the strategy is to look at the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.
"Another driver for forest degradation is poor logging practices. Some companies just go and cut trees anyhow in the forest. Another driver is infrastructure development, removing mangroves to make way for infrastructure, how can we better manage this.
"The strategy will look at how we can address these different drivers."
The land use planning specialist added that the REDD Plus program had been assisting government and stakeholders in the area of reducing carbon emissions by increasing the forest population.
"It's an initiative where Fiji helps to reduce their carbon emission by reducing the amount of forest that they remove and by increasing the amount of forest areas because forest absorbs carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas.
"This is a mechanism where developing countries are offered financial incentives to reduce their carbon emissions by helping protect their forest or better manage their forest and Fiji is actually part of this whole initiative.
"So Fiji as a country at the national level is targeting to reduce deforestation and forest degradation and hopefully will be provided incentives to help our local forest community."
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