'We are very grateful to SPC for facilitating our visit to Fiji,' said David Devynck, a forest engineer with the Wallis and Futuna State Department who, with Taifisi Folituu, a sawmill owner from Wallis, visited Fiji for assistance with the development of their forestry sector, in particular the timber industry.

The two men were in Fiji from 21-26 May and visited staff of SPC's Land Resources Division (LRD), Fiji's Forestry Department and various forestry enterprises around Viti Levu, including saw millers, timber exporters and timber value-adding companies, learning more about timber treatment and visual identification of timber species to ensure that they import only species that can withstand the conditions in Wallis and Futuna.

Wallis and Futuna has problems with invasive species such as Falcataria moluccana and they requested LRD for assistance in this area, especially in the mapping of the affected areas. Other areas of support required include the provision of seeds of selected timber tree species, an inventory of their pine plantations, and assistance in improving timber utilisation, especially in the areas of timber processing and treatment.

'This trip has given us some ideas about what should be best for us in terms of improving timber processing and sustainable management of our forest resources,' Devynck said.

Inoke Ratukalou, Acting Director of LRD, said that he was pleased to meet the members of the delegation, as it was an opportunity to enhance closer collaboration between SPC and Wallis and Futuna.

'Such collaboration is not only beneficial to Wallis and Futuna; it also allows us to learn from their experiences and serve other member countries better.'

Devnyck said that the visit was very interesting and a huge learning experience for him and his colleague. 'There are many similarities between our forestry sector and Fiji's, and I believe we will learn a lot from each other if we work together.

'We have seen that Fiji's Forestry Department is well established and we hope to learn a lot from them in our future collaboration, especially with training of some of our nationals at the Timber Industry Training Centre.'

He added that it is always easy to work with other countries in the region through SPC as it is in good position to guide them.

The weeklong trip was facilitated by the LRD's forestry team and supported by Fiji's Forestry Department.