Solomons timber exporters promoting product in NZ
Solomon Islands timber exporters in New Zealand to promote more sales of sawn timber.
Solomon Islands sawn timber exporters have been in New Zealand over the past week as the country increases efforts to add value to its timber resource.
Forestry has been the economic backstop of the Solomon Islands economy for years with bulk being sawn logs going to China.
The exporters have been escorted around New Zealand by Andrew Piper is with the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program, or PHAMA, which is supported by the Australian and New Zealand aid programmes.
He told Don Wiseman that Solomons sawn timber is typically produced by family based businesses harvesting trees on their own land.
ANDREW PIPER: There has been a push from the Solomons government to try and increase the amount of sawn timber and valuated timber, the majority of which is produced by communities, individual villages or families that are cutting timber on their own land, selected harvesting type of approach to forestation, and then milling that using portable mills themselves and selling that to processors in Honiara who are then exporting it out here.
DON WISEMAN: It's typically a case of very small operators, there are no multi-national logging companies involved in the sawn timber business?
AP: No, no. It's very much a village based production, yeah. So it's families or small groups of land owners, land holders harvesting timber and they usually sell it into the processors or sort of aggregators that are in Honiara. And some of those businesses are representing on this trip that we are doing at the moment. But the two biggest markets for the sawn timber out of the Solomon Islands are Australia and New Zealand and they are similar sized markets, hence the reason for us coming around at the moment to engage with those two main markets, talk about the issues that importers have and try to strengthen the industry and deepen the understanding of the market requirements in these key locations.
DW: A critical factor there I guess is they would need to be able, for the New Zealand market, prove they're bona fides, wouldn't they? Because there's this strong sense of the need for that sort of wood to be sustainably milled and processed.
AP: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. And we met with a group of New Zealand timber importers and that's a real focus for a lot of markets dealing in timber around the world at the moment. So with the farmer programme and with Ministry of Forestry and the industry in Solomons in the last two years or so, there's been a lot of work done around timber legality and verification of timber legality, and that's been initially I guess prompted by the Australian government legislation which prohibits the import of illegally sourced timber. So your importers in Australia are required to demonstrate the legality of the timber that they bring in. So we've been working with the Australian market around complying with that and then equally at the moment talking to the New Zealand market about requirements for legality of timber and sustainability certification.
DW: How do you verify that?
AP: Essentially just the government requirements in the Solomon Islands that timber production be licensed and that the necessary approvals and permits are all in place for the processing and export of timber.
The secretariat of the Pacific Islands Forum's Trade and Invest Office co-ordinated the visit.
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