Logging companies still resist Pacific conservation policies
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community says more effort is needed to help prevent further degradation of native forests around the region.
Forestry officials in the Pacific region say logging companies continue to resist conservation policies and there's little political will to effectively combat forest degradation.
Deforestation in the Pacific, among some of the last significant tracts of native forest, has led to severe erosion in some parts, leaving degraded land unsuitable for agriculture.
Indira Moala reports.
Programmes such as Redd-plus, initiated by the United Nations, have been established in countries like Papua New Guinea to help conserve and restore degraded forests.
Kenn Mondiai, a Senior Forest Officer in PNG-based Partners with Melanesia says a Forest Policy established by the government in 1999 put emphasis on sustainability.
But he says logging operators continue to ignore the logging codes of practice.
KENN MONIDIAI: Many of these companies do not pay attention, due care and concern to the factors of allowing forests to recover. They ignore the factors or most of the logging workers are either Chinese or Asians or Papua New Guineans who are full-time logging workers who have not been taught or trained about these standards that PNG government has in place for logging areas.
An official in Fiji's Forestry department says political pressure and resistance from logging companies is the reason behind a delay in the establishment of much needed sustainable forest management systems.
Acting Director Eliki Senivasa says a conservation model which was supposed to have been put in place six years ago to help sustain Fiji's remaining natural forests, has still not been established.
ELIKI SENIVASA: There is always resistance, political resistance from industries as well other players. Especially other industry players. It's not really picking up well because there's a lot of political pressure.
Mr Senivasa says the system they want to establish would only allow the removal of 30 percent of the standing volume of a forest.
Meanwhile, pressure from logging companies continues.
ELIKI SENIVASA: We are a small economy you know, our economic base is small and our forest is one of the key economic sectors. It's quite a challenging thing to tell them not to cut because of this. So it's quite a complex problem.
Kenn Mondiai used to work in the logging industry.
He left after witnessing the disruption and social problems it was causing within communities.
KENN MONDIAI: I really hate the logging companies because of what I saw with my own eyes. I left forestry and I left logging and I've come into the environmental conservation sector. Logging is really bad for people who can see what is happening to the land, to the trees, to the river, to the lives of the people that own the forests. They don't even benefit. Logging is only disrupting the societies here in Papua New Guinea and I believe it's happening in Solomon Islands, in Vanuatu and in other parts in Melanesia.
The SPC's Forest genetic resources officer, Cenon Padolina, says there have been some initial steps towards sustainable management, more political support is critically needed.
CENON PADOLINA: There is still some problems, like the Solomon Islands, because of the economic importance of these logging activities. There are still some improvement (needed), I think, in terms of sustainable forest management practises in the region. Yeah, it's a matter of political will among the countries to implement those sustainable practises.
Kenn Mondiai says he has rarely seen logging companies penalised by the PNG government for breaching standards in logging codes of practice.
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