10 Mar 2005

Timber interests in Solomon Islands scramble for logging licences ahead of new laws

9:17 pm on 10 March 2005

An NGO worker in Solomon Islands, campaigning to save the country's fast dwindling forestry stocks, says there is a scramble to harvest as much as possible before any law change.

Genevieve Walker, of Oxfam Australia, has just visited villagers on Kolombangara in Western Province - an area now completely logged over.

Ms Walker says the villagers told her of the powerlessness they felt when the loggers moved in and the environmental and social destruction the area has suffered.

Ms Walker says there are similar stories throughout the country with loggers taking four times the sustainable harvest in the past year.

"Given the industry is aware of the pressure from NGO groups, amongst other sectors -governments, foreign governments, that we want to see this new forest bill come in and see the reform of the forestry sector, you have businesses, key business people, South East Asian companies, arguably members of parliament, scrambling for logging licences to actually cut as much as possible before the new forest bill could be passed in Parliament."