Sustainable use and management of forests and tree resources will remain an important focus of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Land Resources Division (LRD) for the foreseeable future.

Sairusi Bulai, SPC LRD Forestry Team Coordinator, made these comments while officially opening the Pacific workshop on regional support to REDD+ Readiness in Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs), held in Nadi, Fiji on 19 September 2011.

'REDD+ is a new international mechanism to compensate developing countries for reducing their rate of deforestation and forest degradation and increasing their carbon stocks. Developing countries participate on a voluntary basis.'

Developed countries provide technical and financial assistance to enable eligible countries to meet the requirements for future participation. Once a country begins participating, it receives compensation for its verified reduction in carbon emission from forest activities.

'Our main issue was and continues to be the lack of adequate resources to enable countries to effectively implement sustainable forest management. Therefore, we are very fortunate that we have this opportunity to discuss findings and recommendations of the mission, which the UN-REDD Programme has undertaken in the Pacific earlier this year,' Mr Bulai said. The UN-REDD Programme is a collaborative partnership of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to support countries in the preparation of this mechanism.

He encouraged participants to take advantage of the excellent opportunity to discuss REDD+ experiences in the PICTs and to link up with the experts in attendance.

'REDD+ gives an excellent opportunity to create better awareness and understanding amongst all stakeholders, including resource owners, so that informed decisions are made to avoid exploitation,' Mr Bulai said.

Because of the large investments required, not every country will be able to benefit from the mechanism. However, the engagement of SPC should lead to cost efficiency stemming from greater cooperation among the PICTs, allowing the smaller ones with limited forest and tree resources to benefit from the provision of services on the regional.

Mr Bulai also stressed on the critical importance of multi-sectoral as well as multi-stakeholder based approaches to forest management to effectively reduce deforestation and forest degradation.

45 participants have attended the two-day workshop that was being supported by German Development Cooperation (GIZ), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the UN-REDD Programme.