Solomons World Heritage site landowners need compensation
A Solomon Islands provincial leader fears for the future of a World Heritage Area because government is failing to compensate landowners for loss of income.
The premier of Rennell and Bellona province in Solomon Islands says the country's only World Heritage Area, in East Rennell, is being endangered by the national government's failure to compensate land owners.
The area is dominated by Lake Tegano and the surrounding forest is said to have a rich biodiversity.
But the premier, Lency Tango, says unhappy landowners have invited a logging company to log the forests.
Mr Tango says the government is obliged to compensate the landowners who are not able to harvest their forests or take other steps that would harm the environment.
But he told Don Wiseman he does not believe any money has been forthcoming since the Heritage Area was created in 1995.
LENCY TANGO: "The central government they don't even bother to pay attention. This is really corruption. You know the World Heritage programme, I think the central government should have honour about the programme. They should have pride over this programme."
DON WISEMAN: "How much money do you think should have been coming from the national government through over this 20 year period?"
LT: "I don't care how much they put as long as they put the [World Heritage] programme to the budget. So it sometimes subsidises what the landowners like."
DW: "You want the landowners compensated or to be subsidised because since the World Heritage Area was established there's less opportunity for them to indulge in other activities, is that what you mean?"
LT: "Maybe I used the wrong word but what I mean here is that the government [should] compensate the people for preventing their land going to commercial activities, such as logging. I mean it is just common sense, when you have a got a foreign interest in your land, there must be something that will make you happy and make you not to allow commercial activities that would disturb the programme."
DW: "And so we have a number of landowners who are dissatisfied that there hasn't been anything forthcoming and they have approached logging companies, or a logging company, and that application for a concession from the logging company is pending now."
LT: "Yeah. There is one application for logging in East Rennell but my [provincial] government finds it really hard just to talk with the landowner, just to preach to them about the history of logging in the Solomon Islands and I don't think that this logging [application] will go through."
DW: "Is the World Heritage Area under threat in your view?"
LT: "Yeah. It is under threat but we have to fight it now there's money, very powerful money, money's very powerful, but we must make sure there will be nothing happen in East Rennell in regards to commercial activities like logging."
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