30 Apr 2018

Fiji forest fires putting farming, tourism at risk - NGO

10:15 am on 30 April 2018

An NGO says uncontrolled fires are putting Fiji's farming and tourism sectors at risk in the country's west.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Nature Fiji's Robin Yarrow said forest loss due to the fires during dry season left topsoil exposed to torrential rain during this year's cyclone season.

He said cyclones Josie and Keni earlier this month caused topsoil losses which clogged waterways and endangered reefs.

Mr Yarrow said the reefs and marine life are a key tourist attraction in Viti Levu's west and deforestation caused by fire is putting the industry at risk.

He also said waterlogged lands made farming difficult, jeopardising the country's food security.

"What is being lost is essentially the topsoil which is the most fertile. You're losing a whole rich mix of minerals and trace elements and then microbes and insects which are very much part of the life of the soil."

Robin Yarrow said 'Nature Fiji' is working with the Fiji government, the Pacific Community and other NGOs to develop a National Fire Strategy to help prevent further forest losses.