A workshop organised by the Department of Forestry (DOF) which ended yesterday (Friday) aims to prepare forestry officers for the next National Forestry Inventory (NFI) this year.
Inventories provide the information needed to manage the country’s forest resources. Vanuatu is committed to protecting forest which covered majority of its territory but it needs fresh information that could be mainstream into policy making.
Currently, the government is relying on data analyzed 27 years ago, which is outdated and inaccurate. The first NFI started from 1989 to 1992. Under the National Forestry Policy, Vanuatu is required to conduct inventories every 10 years. Mapping Officer of the DOF’s Planning Section, Phyllis Berry, said no efforts has been made to update data due to financial constraints.
This year’s NFI is expected to be completed by end of this year and will concentrate on the islands of Vanua Lava, Gaua, Santo, Malekula, Ambrym, Pentecost, Maewo, Epi, Efate, Erromango, Tanna and Aneityum. Throughout the six months inventory, forestry officers will be visiting over 1, 000 geographical areas where they will assess and collect information on the status and trends of forest; measure tree growth and size and identify species. GIZ Development Advisor, Sven Selbert, who is assisting the DOF with the NFI explained that the new forest inventory is very important to build up the work of REDD+ after 10 years of carrying out forest conservation works in Vanuatu. REDD+ refers to a United Nations (UN) programme of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. Completing a NFI is one of the requirements of the programme before it moves into the implementation phase. The implementation phase is very crucial stage where the programme will be able to access more global funding to implement community projects, said Selbert.
REDD+ will help the government combat climate change as one of the global challenges, he added. It also involves designing non-carbon benefits to avoid deforestation and improve community well-being. Adviser Selbert said: “Vanuatu has some ambition goals of reducing greenhouse emissions. The only thing that can lock out carbon from the atmosphere is forests. That is why we have to manage our forest wisely. ”The inventory will improve accuracy of information on forest and land use for better.” The DOF will be taking lead in the NFI with financial support from REDD+. The Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system under the United Nations Framework on the Convention of Climate Change (UNFCC) is supporting the NFI with Geographical Information System (GIS) equipment to map and collect data. This year’s NFI is expected to begin immediately on Efate after the workshop.