Pacific representatives at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawai’i stressed the need for the reforestation of degraded forest land in Pacific Island countries.
The Congress, held every four years, brings together leaders from government, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, business, UN agencies and indigenous and grass-roots organizations to discuss and decide on solutions to the world’s most pressing environment and development challenges.
In a Congress Forum session held at the Hawai`i Pacific Pavilion on Monday 5 September, IUCN Oceania Forest team held an hour session to highlight the threats and challenges posed to forests in the region but more importantly the opportunities that are available locally, regionally and globally to reverse the rate of deforestation in the region.
The session opened with a short video – a prayer for the forest or na masu ni veikau, which was narrated and produced by Reverend James Bhagwan of the Methodist Church of Fiji. Participants at the event were also briefed on the Bonn Challenge and the global aspiration to restore 150 million hectares of the world's deforested and degraded lands by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030.
In addressing the session, the Regional Programme Coordinator for IUCN Oceania, Mason Smith indicated that Pacific Island countries were considering their contribution to the Bonn Challenge and to date IUCN, in partnership with a number of regional forest stakeholders, including the Pacific Community (SPC), were in talks with a number of countries to secure funding for a regional forest landscape restoration project totaling over 400,000.00 hectares with donors such as the Green Climate Fund.
“The forest landscape restoration plan is being driven by countries in the region, so they have ownership of the plan and if we move quickly enough, we hope to secure funding for this multi-year project by mid-2017,” said Mason Smith. “As with the Paris Climate Change Agreement, Pacific Island states are not shying away from being part of the global solution and this is just another example of Pacific leadership as its best.”
Dr. Chris Firladi, Conservation International Senior Scientist also spoke and expressed Conservation International’s support to the initiative and said partnerships is not only between organizations; the more meaningful partnerships are those between us and nature, which will define where we come from and our future.