2 Dec 2004

Solomons Cabinet expected to back forestry bill this weekend

6:45 pm on 2 December 2004

The Solomon Islands Forestry Bill, which is aimed at improving the management of the country's rapidly disappearing forests, should be approved by Cabinet this weekend, and then go to Parliament for consideration.

That's the view of the permanent secretary of the Department of Forestry, Environment and Conservation, Steve Likaveke, who has prepared the bill.

He says there is overwhelming support from MPs for the change despite widespread criticism of the bill in the local media.

Mr Likaveke says much of the criticism is general.

"also many of those criticisms we suspect have been sponsored by those who are going to face difficulties when the new bill becomes an act of Parliament."

A prominent lawyer with forestry industry links, Andrew Nori, says the bill will lead to confusion over ownership; will not allow an economic unit for landowners to cut and replant; doesn't give the landowners a good enough return, and want save the forests.

Mr Likaveke says Mr Nori's complaints are based on outdated information and he is confident the latest draft anwers these criticisms.