Integrating Agroforestry and Biodiversity into Climate Change Adaptation Plans from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Thursday 7th October 2010, Suva, Fiji Islands

Existing natural forests should be managed in a sustainable manner, and degraded forests should either be reforested or rehabilitated through agroforestry and other practices.  
 
A sustainable forest and tree management system is one where the elements of sustainable harvesting, forest conservation, protected forests, watershed management, coastal forest management, forest restoration, rehabilitation and agroforestry, are all considered.
 
Managing our forests in this way will “improve the supply and quality of products and services from forest and tree resources, and also enhance a forest’s capacity to better cope with the impacts of climate change,” said Sairusi Bulai, Acting Officer in Charge of SPC’s Land Resources Division (LRD), at a recent panel discussion that was part of a climate change open day event held at SPC’s office in Nabua, Fiji.
 
Mr Bulai highlighted that there are two aspects of adaptation: 1) integrating measures into sustainable forest management that ensure that forests and trees are able to adapt to climate change impacts and continue to provide products and services that are vital to livelihoods; and 2) integrating forests and trees into adaptation planning strategies (i.e. acknowledging the role of forests and trees in buffering the impacts of climate change on other sectors such as agriculture and energy).
 
Mr Bulai mentioned that the year 2011 has been declared by the UN General Assembly as the International Year of Forests, with the theme “Forests for People”.
 
“The theme is fitting, and participating in the panel discussion provides an excellent opportunity to promote the important roles that forests and trees play in helping our people to adapt to the impacts of climate change.”
 
“For us in the Pacific, forests and trees have provided and continue to provide vital products and services that contribute to the well-being of our people. Some of these products include building materials, fuelwood, food, medicine, and items used in cultural or ceremonial practices. Services include supporting livelihoods and economic development, soil and water protection, carbon sequestration and biodiversity,” said Mr Bulai.
 
In spite of these benefits, forests continue to be lost and degraded due to agricultural expansion, human-made developments, and in some countries, unsustainable timber harvesting. It is estimated that about 350 square kilometres of forest are lost on a daily basis worldwide, which is equivalent to the combined total land mass of Niue, Nauru, Pitcairn, Tokelau and Tuvalu.
 
Dr Siosiua Halavatau, coordinator of LRD’s Crop Production Team, also agreed with Mr Bulai’s statements, and added that while environmental adversities have always existed, they are now aggravated by climate change.
 
Dr Halavatau stated that there two agricultural practices can be adopted for minimising the effects of climate change: 1) selecting and breeding locally adapted crop varieties and animal breeds that are resistant to diseases and pests, and 2) using bio-diverse agriculture to build organic matter through crop rotation, composting, green manuring, cover crops and charcoal.
The three day event (4–6 October) was organised by SPC’s library in conjunction with climate change officers from South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) and the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) organisation as an awareness initiative on climate change work in the region.

For further information please contact Vinesh Prasad on telephone (679)3370733 or email LRD Help Desk on email lrdhelpdesk@spc.int.