12 Sep 2007

Solomons forestry headed for collapse

1:28 pm on 12 September 2007

Solomon Islands faces the collapse of its most important industry in a little over four years, with a loss of up to 70 percent of foreign earnings and nearly 20 percent of the country's jobs.

For years NGOs and others have been warning about the economic and environmental hazards of large scale industrial logging by multi national companies.

Now, as Don Wiseman reports, the government backs this view.

"The current rate of harvest is well above the sustainable rate and the Ministry of Forestry's just released National Forest Resource Assessment Update calls it a sunset industry whose anticipated demise has severe implications for the country. It predicts there could be an increase in harvest because of licences already granted before the dramatic decline in millable forest starting in 2011. The report says by 2015 the forests will have been totally exhausted. The report calls for changes including the passing of legislation, based on the 2004 Forestry Bill, to ensure the industry is sustainable, better communication to ensure people are aware of the implications of the unsustainable harvest, and tighter enforcement of laws. The Assessment also calls for improved management practices by the Forestry Division, such as the conversion to plantations and discouragement of re-harvesting occurring too early."