Thursday, 24 April 2008 11:27 AM

Green Peace Proposes Logging Alternative

The Green Peace launched a report yesterday detailing the impact of logging in the country.

The report entitled 'Securing the future: An alternative plan for Solomon Island Forests and Economy' provides a proposal for the Solomon Islands government to follow in the event that log exports decline.

The report compared the value of industrial logging for round wood export to small-scale sawmilling for timber export and local use. The report found that overall community ecoforestry for sawn timber was 58 percent more profitable to landowners and government than round logs are for export.

The report identified the following spin-offs from sawn timber processing.

- Additional 'spin off' benefits towards economic activity.
- Considerable village employment, particularly for young men,
- Allow local communities to retain control over their forest resources,
- Provide permanent house building materials, and
- Maintain the forest for existing customary uses.
-
The report also found that if the stored carbon of the estimated 250,000 ha of unlogged commercial forest remain, that is if it were 'carbon financed' (instead of logging the forest) then it could provide an immediate minimum value of US$159 million to the Government and landowners.

The report recommended that

. The Solomon Islands Government places an immediate moratorium on all new logging licenses and cancels any licences that breach their conditions or are not in compliance with the law.
. By the end of 2008 the Solomon Islands Government should phases out log exports in favour of maximizing local processing and value capture by the nation.
. The Solomon Islands Government should set a goal of Zero deforestation by 2015. This would include opposing all conversion of forests for plantation and seeking forest carbon finance incentive payments.

The logging sector currently accounts for 67 percent of export receipts, 15 percent of domestic government revenue and 15 percent of GDP. However, the international Monetary Fund (IMF) recently predicted a rapid collapse of logging with commercial natural forests being logged out by 2014. The IMF, the Central Bank of the Solomon Islands and the Governor General of Solomon Islands and the Governor General of Solomon Islands have warned of serious financial, economic and social impacts when this happens. It is forecast that economic growth will decline to 1.5 percent per annum, down from 10 percent in 2007, largely due to a rapid decline in logging as commercial forests are logged out.

With the gloomy picture in 2015, the government has recently announced its effort to find alternative sources to offset the drop in revenue. The above report therefore suggested that the government should look into encouraging sustainable methods of harvesting the forest.

Letters to the Editor All Letters
By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province