What will happen in the next ten years if Fiji's approach to sustainable land management continues to be overlooked?

This question was asked by Acting Director of SPC's Land Resources Division, Inoke Ratukalou, when he closed a one-day land use awareness workshop in Lautoka, Fiji, recently.

'It takes 400 to 1000 years to develop one inch of soil but it takes only a few hours of rain to remove it; the total soil loss for Rewa, Ba, Sigatoka and Nadi watershed in Fiji is, on average, 21 million tons a year,' he added.

If the present indiscriminate land use and demographic trends continue, there will be an increasingly urgent need to match land systems, soil types and land uses in the most rational way possible in order to optimise sustainable land resource development and management to meet the needs of society.

'Past and recent floods, and their devastating effects on agriculture and infrastructure - towns and cities, roads and highways, villages and settlements - and to peoples' lives are increasingly a major, long-term threat that will continue to haunt Fiji's agriculture economy if we do not put in place the appropriate adaptation measures and mitigating factors that can protect the land and its people,' Ratukalou said.

He explained that land capability classification in Fiji and its usefulness in the sustainable management of land resources play a key role in development of a resource base for agriculture, forestry and industrial production.

Mr Osea Bolawaqatabu, Director of the Land Resource Planning and Development Division of Fiji's Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), said that the aim of the workshop was to bring together stakeholders involved in land use planning and natural resource management so that they can gain an insight into Fiji's land use capability system.

'It is anticipated that this workshop will form the basis for the use of land according to its capability for future development in order to minimise land degradation.
'Land use planning is a logical process for resolving demands for competing land uses. It is a spatial allocation of land for different uses, and is becoming increasingly important for Fiji,' he said.

He added that the primary purpose of land use planning is not only to support development initiatives but also to encourage sustainability, identify optimum management practices, foster economic growth and thus improve living standards.

SPC's Land Resources Division, in collaboration with the MPI's Agriculture Department, organised the workshop. Representatives from Fiji's Department of Forests, Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, iTaukei Land Trust Board, Environment Department and Ministry of Provincial Development participated in the workshop.