Forest and Trees

Forests and trees play significant roles in the lives of Pacific Islanders, economically, socially, culturally and environmentally. In many Pacific island countries, especially on the smaller islands and atolls, agroforestry and tree crops provide most of the food, medicines, construction materials, firewood, tools and myriad of other products and services that cannot be replaced with imported substitutions. For the larger countries, forests have contributed significantly into their economic development in terms of foreign exchange earnings, employment and infrastructure development. Thus, a major challenge for Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) is to ensure sustainable management of their scarce and diminishing forest and tree resources, taking into account demands for economic development and the social and environmental needs of their growing populations, LRD-SPC is addressing this under its Forest & Tree programme.

SPC assists Wallis and Futuna in quarantine and plant propagation training
Friday, 21 June 2013 10:33

The plant propagation and nursery training was conducted by Mr Cenon Padolina, Forest Genetic Resources Officer of the Forests and Trees Team (FAT) of the SPC’s Land Resources Division (LRD). Mr Jalesi Mateboto, SPC Community Forestry Technician, conducted the forestry inventory assisted by Sam Channel, Forest Botanist, Forestry Department of Vanuatu. These activities are the outcome of an agreement signed between SPC and Agriculture and Forestry Department of Wallis and Futuna for capacity building of key stakeholders and government staff in the areas of setting up and managing forest and fruit tree nurseries, plant propagation and forest inventory. The training on nursery management and plant propagation covered seed treatment prior to germination, preparation of potting media, seed germination, potting of seedlings, seedling maintenance and hardening of seedlings prior to transplanting.

Eighteen participants, including department staff and a few farmers, received training, focusing on the two techniques of marcotting and grafting. Breadfruit trees were used to demonstrate marcotting, whilst potted seedlings of citrus and mango were used to demonstrate grafting. Participants were given a potted seedling each to graft.

In the field planting exercise, carried out on the land of one of the participants (Taifisi Folituu), demonstrations on how to prepare a planting site, planting of seedlings and fertiliser application were carried out. Dilo (Calophyllum inophyllum), vesi (Intsia bijuga) and mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) seedlings were brought to the planting site for participants to plant.

Benedicte Hougron and David Devynck, Department of Agriculture and Forestry staff, helped with coordination and arrangements for the training, led by Director Mr Yannick Tessier. Two staff from Futuna, Petelo Savea and Matile Luaki and staff from quarantine (BIVAP) also participated. Forest inventory was conducted in both islands of Wallis and Futuna. The exercise helped strengthen capacity of local staff in conducting forest inventory but also provided baseline information for the sustainable management of forest resources.

On quarantine activities, Wallis and Futuna have few major pests due mainly to its isolation. There are only two direct travel routes to overseas destinations (Nadi and New Caledonia). This relative low pest status could be jeopardised if quarantine scrutiny at the airport is not stepped up as Wallis and Futuna get ready to host about 1,500 athletes and officials participating in Pacific Mini Games, to be held from 30 August to 14 September 2013. Educating the travelling public on quarantine issues and their responsibility to prevent the movement of pests contributes to protecting national biodiversity and food security. SPC is again working with partners and pulling resources to coordinate a quarantine awareness campaign, targeting Pacific island contingents to the Mini Games. A preliminary site visit organised by the Pacific Mini Games Organising Committee allowed LRD Information Communications Manager to travel to Wallis and Futuna in the first week of June to initiate the development of the awareness campaign. Discussions were held with Gilles Le Godais, Director of Quarantine (BIVAP); Mr Vahai Tuulaki, President of the Games Organising Committee; and Mr Eddy Filipponi, Executive Director, on the importance of maintaining vigilance at the national border to prevent pest incursions. Issues raised included identifying key messages for awareness materials, appropriate placement of quarantine signage at airport arrival, and recommended spot checking of arriving passengers as a precautionary measure to intercept any new pests.  BIVAP requested to also put up signage as well at airport arrivals at Nadi and La Tounta (New Caledonia) as most passengers will transit there on their way to Wallis and Futuna.

There are quite a few nasty pests in the Pacific region that do not need to spread to new areas – taro beetle, taro leaf blight, taro viruses, banana nematodes, rhinoceros beetle, brown tree snake, phytoplasmic fungi and viruses, fruit flies, nuisance ants and a whole array of invasive weeds and plants disguised as ornamentals, just to name a few.

The regional quarantine awareness campaign is carried out as part of ongoing activities of the Pacific Plant Protection Organisation (PPPO), whose secretariat sits with the Land Resources Division. Consisting of national heads of quarantine, PPPO is being requested to conduct quarantine pre-clearance of national contingents prior to departure for Wallis. This will greatly facilitate quarantine inspection at Wallis airport. Teams will present pre-clearance documentation on arrival.

SPC Biosecurity Team will also be providing technical assistance in fruit fly monitoring and surveillance especially at the main venues to further protect Wallis and Futuna from any pest incursions.

Preventing pest incursions and maintaining pest free areas are critical to maintaining trading partners and a necessary first step to trade negotiations. Pest incursions impact on national food security and agrobiodiversity. SPC’s efforts to educate the travelling public on quarantine issues to prevent the movement of pests are carried out with the assistance of collaborating partners.

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We acknowledge our major donors/partners in supporting Forestry initiatives in the Pacific