Respecting forests and other land ecologies

Forests and other land ecologies are of great importance in Te Moananui Oceania, ecologically, culturally, spiritually, and economically. They are integral to the identity, and well-being of Pacific Island communities. Many of the landscapes of the Pacific islands are very biodiverse and are home to unique flora, fauna, and ecosystems. According to The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), all of Micronesia and Polynesia is a regional biodiversity hotspot. This includes Fiji and Hawai’i and the more well-known bioversity centres of Aotearoa New Zealand and New Caledonia. These ecosystems play crucial roles in regulating climate, preserving biodiversity, and providing human wellbeing and livelihoods. Forests are not only sources of physical sustenance but also repositories of cultural knowledge, oral traditions, and spiritual practices passed down through generations. Forests are often regarded as sacred spaces, associated with powerful Atua such as Kāne in Hawai’i and Tānemahuta in Tahiti, the Cook Islands, and Aotearoa (New Zealand). These Atua are associated with the creation and preservation of forests and life within them, and are even central to the origin of humans beings in some traditions. They play vital roles in sustaining the balance of nature.  The following nature-based solutions may be useful in celebrating, regenerating or respecting forests and other land ecologies.