Lack of funding delays state of Forestry report

Minister Commins Mewa
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MINISTRY of Forestry and Research is facing set back to update the State of the Forestry Report due to funding delay and coronavirus pandemic.

Minister Commins Mewa explained when answering the question asked by Member of Parliament for West Kwara’ae, Sam Iduri in Parliament yesterday.

Mewa said the ministry is still progressing the work to update the state of our Forest.

He said the report on the forest cover and land use will be presented to Cabinet and eventually to Parliament.

Independent Leader, John Dean Kuku asked a supplementary question on what percentage of the report was completed.

Mewa in response said it was 80 percent completed.

Furthermore, the ministry is ready to roll out an inventory exercise which cost around $3 million across the country to do drone on the satellite imagery assessment and to update a state of forest data.

Mewa said a delay was because a proposal that they submitted to FAO is yet to be accepted for funding.

However, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in collaboration with Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) has shown interest to assist on the ground truthing.

Mewa said currently, training and capacity building is ongoing using various technologies like drones and computers software to enhance the satellite imagery assessment report.

He said the software that is currently being used to train their officers include using iPad built with inventory software to assist the forest and enter data in the forest that will automatically update the main database in headquarters, Honiara.

“Our plan is to begin rolling out trial inventories in some parts of the country in 2020 is affected by this COVID 19 issue and the budget given to the Ministry was not enough to support the programme.

“This inventory is very likely going to be delayed as funds will be very likely be unavailable in 2021, but I trust my Ministry will continue the negotiation with our Development Partners to support us in that endeavour to know the truth of the Status of our Forest as currently, logging which has higher contributions to our economy, employment, infrastructure development, additional services and SIG revenue is exploiting our natural forests at an unsustainable rate,” he said.

Mewa said they are dealing with the unsustainable harvesting through the Sustainable Logging Policy as of this year as round logs export is proposed to be reduced compared to 2019.

“And I want to assure you all that, our forest is a renewable resource and our National Forest Policy is addressing the utilisation, sustainability, protection, governance and restoration of the forest,” he added.

The Ministry of Forestry and Research had started the work on updating the State of the Forest since 2018 using the Satellite imagery and other updated technology through the assistance of JICA and FAO. 

On that exercise, the Ministry used 2km x 2km and 4km x 4km scale to determine the forest cover and land use across our country.

A report developed from that assessment had been submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as our Forest Reference Level (FRL) which has been requested  as a REDD+ requirement to report on our Carbon emissions and Carbon sequestrations, capturing the forest degradation and deforestation and our determination to know carbon emissions and sequestrations difference and the balance for the management of the Carbon emissions through forest management and restoration.

This report was accepted and published last year and we will submit or present it before the Cabinet and later a Parliament paper.