31 Aug 2007

Solomons launches tree planting campaign as forests vanish

3:36 pm on 31 August 2007

The Solomon Islands Government is to launch a tree planting programme throughout the country to take the pressure off the dwindling forests.

The Forestry Minister, Mark Kemakeza, this week launched the National Forestry Assessment Report, saying there is a need for balance between the environmental impact and the economic demands made of forestry.

Don Wiseman has more.

"Currently forestry provides around 65 to 70 percent of Solomon Islands' foreign earnings, directly employs five thousand people and pays millions of dollars in wages. But Mr Kemakeza warns that at the current rate of depletion the forests will be gone in eight years. He says the government has to aggressively pursue alternative sources of revenue, while also ensuring that the country is getting the best return it can from the logging industry through legislation, compliance measures and political will power. Mr Kemakeza says as part of the government's rural development process it has launched the National Forest Plantation Programme, which will support small holding community groups, families and individuals to grow trees on their land. He says his ministry will provide support through genetically superior seeds, basic tools and officials to provide advice."