The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), in collaboration with its partners, organised two side events during the second Asia Pacific Forestry Week (APFW) held in Beijing.The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), in collaboration with its partners, organised two side events during the second Asia Pacific Forestry Week (APFW) held in Beijing in order to raise the profile of the Pacific and to showcase positive developments happening in the forestry sector of Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs).
'Opportunities in Pacific Forestry' was the theme for one side event, jointly organised by SPC and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The event comprised a number of presentations by Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa and Kiribati. They showed the diversity of challenges and opportunities these countries face.
Mr Aru Matthias, Regional Forestry Advisor based in FAO's sub-regional office in Samoa, commented that the countries should build on these opportunities.
'There is a lot of interesting forestry work going on in the Pacific, and donor partners like FAO, the European Union, GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and many others are partnering SPC to support the work being carried out in Pacific island countries,' he added.
He said that a forum such as this side event provided an ideal opportunity for Pacific nations to network with each other and share ideas.
Mr Gordon Konairamo, Commissioner of Forestry in Solomon Islands Ministry of Forestry stressed the fact that with effective collaboration among communities, all plantation forests are certified under one of the certifying agencies - the Forest Stewardship Certification.
'This enables easy access to overseas market as more and more countries are ratifying their legislations to buy only certified timber to promote sustainable forest management.'
Similarly, Fiji's Conservator of Forest Mr Inoke Wainiqolo highlighted that it is the value-adding downstream processing of mahogany before exporting that contributes to increased revenue to Fiji.
'We have even gone into making handicrafts out of the waste wood that was normally left to decay after harvesting the tree trunk,' said Mt Wainoqolo.
The second side event was on REDD+ activities in the Pacific to inform the international community what countries in the Pacific are doing about climate change in terms of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). This event was organised in collaboration with JICA, GIZ, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies(IGES) and UN-REDD.
In delivering the keynote address at this event, SPC's Forest and Trees Coordinator Mr Sairusi Bulai said that forest and trees offer one of the best solutions for Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) to cope with climate change and other changing circumstances.
'But Pacific countries need to implement sustainable forest management if their forest and tree resources are going to cope with climate change as well as continue to provide products and services that are vital to the well-being of Pacific communities,' he added.
'REDD+ with the current fund-based grant financing mechanism for REDD+ activities offers an excellent opportunity for forestry support in Pacific Island countries towards sustainable forest management. It is a tremendous opportunity to implement measures that they have not been able to implement up to now due to lack of resources,' Mr Bulai said.
He added that SPC, with the support of its partners is assisting PICTs to implement activities towards REDD+ readiness.
'A very important activity being pursued on this will be the formulation of a draft policy framework for the Pacific region towards a regional approach to REDD+ that will facilitate application of common methodologies, sharing of expertise and information, and extending benefits to smaller island countries not expected to participate in REDD+ readiness,' he explained.
JICA's Senior Advisor in the Global Environment Department Mr Hiroki Miyazono also commented that Pacific Island countries have demonstrated how the donors are collaborating effectively to ensure that support is attuned to the needs of the region.
'The technical assistance provided as part of REDD+ readiness programmes is an excellent opportunity to transfer skills and knowledge to forestry officials and local communities.
'SPC provides a focal point for policy and technical support to Pacific Island countries that have limited human resources, and this support is essential to efficiently use foreign investments and bilateral assistance in the forestry sector,' said Mr Miyazono.
He added that presentations from senior forestry officials from Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vanuatu explained how the heavily-forested countries of Melanesia have progressed towards REDD+ readiness at the national level.
'It was very encouraging to hear that all countries are keen to see donors collaborate and to ensure that foreign consultants are also assisting in building capacity at the regional and national level as part of their terms of reference.'