Forests for People symposium in Fiji

Konai Helu Thaman, CEC Regional Vice-Chair, was a speaker at the “Symposium on Teaching and Learning about the Value of Forests and Trees to People and Planet Earth” at the University of the South Pacific.

Participants at a Suva, Fiji, symposium on forests

8:45 AM Saturday 27 August
Marine Studies Lecture Theatre
Lower Campus, the University of the South Pacific, Suva

On Saturday 27 August, the School of Education and the School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment, in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair in teacher education, IUCN Commission on Education & Communication (Oceania), Nature Fiji- Mareqeti Viti, the Econesian Society and the Geography Students Association, hosted a half-day “Symposium on Teaching and Learning about the Value of Forests and Trees to People and Planet Earth” as a way of launching the UN International Year of Forests – 2011 at USP. About 70 students, staff and other interested parties attended and contributed to the symposium.

The Guest of Honor was Viliame Naupoto, Permanent Secretary for Fisheries and Forests, who has championed the protection and planting of forests and trees in Fiji. The symposium involved Postgraduate and Undergraduate Students from Education, Geography and Environmental Science/Studies, members of the Geography Students Association and the Econesian Society, (a USP student environment organization formed in 2006 to promote awareness of, and skills to address environmental problems), and other interested staff and students. The symposium was designed to: 1) enhance participants’ knowledge of, and ability to teach about, forests, trees and the emerging biodiversity crisis in formal and non-formal settings in the Pacific, and, 2) raise awareness of the UN International Year of Forests (IYF), its objectives, types of awareness raising activities that are being carried out, and resources that are available to students and the public on the IYF Website.

The morning programme included:

  • A welcome and opening remarks by Professor Konai Helu Thaman, UNESCO Chair and Regional Vice-Chair of the IUCN Commission of Education & Communication;
  • The opening address by the Guest of Honor, Viliame Naupoto, Permanent Secretary for Fisheries and Forests on “Fiji’s Growing Commitment to Protecting and Planting Forests and Trees”.
  • A presentation by Dr. Randy Thaman, Professor of Pacific Island Biogeography and Head, School of Islands and Oceans, “Banking on Forest Biodiversity: Forests on the Frontline Against Global Change - The Relevance of the International Year of Forests for USP & the Pacific Region”
  • A presentation ” by Dr. Lex Thomson, Head, EU-SPC Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) Project, SPC, Suva on Forest Genetic Resources and Prospects for Tree planting to Address Poverty and the Biodiversity Crisis
  • A presentation by USP MA graduate, Tamara Osborne Naikatini, an Outreach Scientist, Nature Fiji – Mareqeti Viti (NFMV) on “Fiji’s Forest Biodiversity: My Identity, My Responsibility”
  • A “Panel Discussion on the Important Messages and Teaching and Learning Priorities in Relations to Forests and Trees to Youth and Future Generations Chaired and introduced by Vilisi Ratukalou of The Econesian Society with Panelists, Teweariki Teairo and Sereima Naisilisili from the School of Education, Eferemo Kubunavanua of the Econesian Society, Jale Tauraga of the Geography Students Association, and Kilifi O’Brien, Climate Change Postgraduate Student from Tuvalu.

The programme also included original songs written by Ron Simpson and sung by the Econesian Singers, tea and a light lunch. The Symposium was attended by about 70 participants during the morning.


Randy Thaman

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