Honiara : 10 May 2017
Letter to the Editor, Island Sun and Solomon Star Newspapers.
According to Vaeno Vigulu, the Permanent Secretary of Forestry and Research, the forests in the Solomon Islands have been logged to an unsustainable level.
Mr Vigulu, speaking with the SIBC, said the country’s forests had suffered to massive harvests.
He added, “But it’s what the people want. Across the country, they want to harvest their trees so they harvest them.”
“What we try to do is to regulate this industry under the current forest act and our regulations so that we can try to minimise the destruction to our forests which will allow the re-growth of our local species so that we can harvest them back in the next 10 to 15 years.”
The SIBC, news item from which I will quote, further reported.
“Last year, the logging industry collected its biggest revenue of all time of more than $SBD500 million dollars.
“But it came at a huge price. Reports of huge detrimental environmental impacts, such as soil degradation, reduced river flows and impact on forest animals are well-known and widespread.
“In March, the Ministry of Forestry stopped issuing licenses to new logging companies, or non-members of the Solomon Forest Association.
“More than 100 logging companies are operating in the country and 77 of those companies were members of the SFA.”
To put into proper context what Mr Vigulu referred to as,“But it’s what the people want. Across the country, they want to harvest their trees so they harvest them,” I suggest one should read the excellent research paper written by Dr Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka entitled ‘Underlying Causes of Deforestation and Forest Degradation – Paths in the Jungle: Landowners, Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Solomon Islands.”
This document can be downloaded via the internet.
Dr Tara in his concluding piece to the research paper said.
“The logging industry in Solomon Islands demonstrates that landowners have significant authority to determine forestry outcomes. They could influence the fate of forest degradation and deforestation.
“However, they have been unable to do so because of a lack of power. This lack of power emanates from the fact that they do not have access to appropriate and much needed legal counselling, they do not have access to government forestry advice.
“Furthermore, many landowners have been motivated by the desire for income generation. They will continue to accept logging and, therefore, contribute to deforestation unless alternative means of income generation opportunities are provided.
"Landowner acceptance of logging is merely a pragmatic response to their changing needs and increasing influence of a cash economy.”
“One could conclude, therefore, that landowners currently contribute to the rate of deforestation.
“Furthermore, the concept of landowner is and should not be treated as homogenous.”
The challenge to the country is therefore clear, as I see it, and identified by Dr Tara.
Unless other sources of income generation are found landowners in particular will continue their pragmatic response to create money from havesting their trees then deforestation and forest degradation will worsen affecting the land and influencing climate change.
I would urge the SIG, while trying to further regulate the forestry industry, to give increased forestry advice to all landowners so they make the right decisions when considering whether or not to harvests their trees.