The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Forestry and Forest products Research Institute (FFPRI) of Japan.

The MOU will enable SPC, through its Forest and Trees team in the Land Resources Division (LRD), to work with FFPRI in identifying and providing solutions to issues of tree breeding and stand improvement in coastal areas through collaborative research activities (CRAs).

The Deputy Director-General of SPC, Ms Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu, and FFPRI President Dr Kazuo Suzuki signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations.

LRD's Regional Forest Genetic Resources Officer, Cenon Padolina, explained: 'The collaboration will include exchange of scientific information, exchange visits of scientists and other experts, as well as planning and implementing CRAs designed to produce information and new or improved technologies.

'Both parties will have designated staff to undertake these CRAs and the scale and nature will be determined from time to time by a joint evaluation,' he added.

On the same occasion, acting Director of LRD Inoke Ratukalou and Dr Kazutaka Kato of FFPRI signed a supporting agreement covering a CRA on the improvement of Calophyllum inophyllum (dilo) for wind tolerance.

The purpose of this research is to investigate the genetic variation and phenotypic characters of Calophyllum inophyllum distributed in the Pacific region, and to use the data for breeding and developing seed\seedling in distribution zone. It also aims to select useful trees that will adapt to various regional environments and future climate change.

'This agreement led to a team of scientists from FFPRI visiting Fiji last week (18-24 February) to collect the leaves and seed samples of Calophyllum inophyllum from the coast of Viti Levu, Fiji's main island,' Padolina said.

Inoke Ratukalou expressed his gratitude and deep appreciation to the Government of Japan and the FFPRI for pledging their trust and willingness to work with SPC.

'We are grateful to the Japanese Government through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and FFPRI for their continuing support of the forestry sector in the Pacific region through LRD.

'JICA initially assisted us with setting up the Tree Seed Centre, donating equipment for the seed laboratory and seed storage facility,' Ratukalou said.

He added that SPC is looking forward to collaborating with JICA in its quest to improve the living standards of Pacific Island communities through the sustainable use of forestry resources.

FFPRI is an independent administrative research organisation, based in Tsukuba, Japan. It conducts research on forestry and forest products, contributing to sustainable forest management.