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.

International Day of Forests
Monday, 24 March 2014 15:47
In a message to commemorate the International Day of Forests on 21 March, Inoke Ratukalou, Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Land Resources Division, said that the day, which aims to celebrate and raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests as well as trees outside forests, had particular importance for the Pacific region.


With deforestation contributing 12%–18% of the world’s carbon emissions, Mr Ratukalou emphasised that forests play a critical role in climate change – which poses an especially direct and substantial threat to the Pacific.

‘Forests and trees also play a significant role in the economic, social, environmental and cultural development of the people in the Pacific,’ he explained.

About 31% of the world’s total land area is covered by forests. Forests and trees combat land degradation and desertification by stabilising soils, reducing water and wind erosion and maintaining nutrient cycling in soils. Forests are home to over 80% of terrestrial biodiversity. They also contribute to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air.

‘Forests constitute the natural capital and inheritance of the present and future generations of Pacific Islanders. Unfortunately, these valuable resources have been under continuous threat by destructive human activities associated with infrastructure development, mining, agricultural clearing and unsustainable logging, ‘Mr Ratukalou said.

He added that most of the small island countries in the region have lost significant forest cover, and the rehabilitation of the resulting degraded lands is a major concern. Smaller and smaller areas of forests are being relied upon to provide the required services and products for the well-being of a growing population, and this has negative consequences for the resilience of communities in adapting to climate change and other changes.

Forests and trees are important in the well-being of our communities, but there is a lack of awareness on their vital role in our lives here in the Pacific.

Mr Ratukalou explained that the goal of the International Day of Forests, which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, was to raise awareness on this important issue.

‘It is important that maximum efforts by all countries and their peoples are directed towards ensuring that forests are managed and used in a sustainable manner,’ he said.

Tonga’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Fisheries, together with its Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, organised activities and public campaigns on the importance of forests and trees to commemorate the day.

According to the Head of the Forestry Division, Tevita Faka’osi, these activities included radio talkback and television programmes to raise public awareness of the importance of forests and trees outside forests.

Fiji’s Forestry Department commemorated the International Day of Forests with an event at Thurston Botanical Garden in Suva. The programme included planting of trees by children and exhibits by regional and non-governmental organisations.

SPC also had a display booth at the half-day event that was attended by secondary and primary school children from around Suva as well as the general public.


(For more information and media queries please contact Vinesh Prasad (+679 3370733) or SPC’s LRD helpdesk This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).


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