14 Aug 2008

Solomons plans new logging scheme to benefit landowners

7:22 pm on 14 August 2008

The Solomon Islands government is proposing a radical new scheme to ensure that landowners get a fair price for trees logged on their properties.

The government will be providing landowners with portable mills so they can process and sell their own timber, thus bypassing logging companies.

A newly formed body, the Monitoring Division, will crack down on logging companies by carrying out random checks to ensure that the timber is not undervalued and that proper records are kept.

Logging operators who breach the Forestry Act will be de-registered.

Transparency Solomon Islands says logging companies currently take 60 percent of the profits and undervalue the trees to cheat both the government and landowners out of what they are owed.

There are currently around 100 logging licenses in circulation but the Permanent Secretary for Forestry Edward Kingmele says he hopes to see landowners start to bypass logging companies.

"If the people can cut their logs and put it on the ship and you from New Zealand, you buy it, what is the point of going through the other people? If they have the machinery, if they have the means to do it, I'm sure they can process their own logs into timber and sell it directly to market."

The Permanent Secretary for Forestry, Edward Kingmele.