I really felt that we have been robed especially with the real values that we supposed to get from the logging industry over so many years that we have them around in the country. The Forestry Act that we have (the one i looked at 5 years ago) is out of date and is not applicable to the current situations.
The Act should be amended and provide for provisions where log prices can be reviewed on monthly or yearly basis. It should give more power to the resource owners and ensure a transparent process in negotiating technology agreement with genuine logging companies. I think the forestry department has been working on that.
The code of harvesting practice that the forestry department adopted up to year 2000 has never been implemented in which forestry officers may not have power or very little power to investigate issues in the field. there was a recent code of harvesting practice which highlighted 13 key standards that all logging operations has to meet.
It looks cool and should that be implemented, we should be able to have control over issues such as; log discrepancies,(ensuring that log volumes are accurate); grading of logs and species, (ensure that correct species are identified as prices vary between species to avoid clashing valuable species under mix grades) and many more.
There is ample evidence that our governing political system maybe vulnerable to corruption and this will also affect its branches, the lower level in our case the forestry officers.
I think there is a greater urgency to include training of certain landowners about the code of harvesting practice so that they too along with the forestry officers will implement the code especially in sensitive areas such as log scaling and log grading, this is where millions of dollars slipped. This group of land owners will then be given certain power under the Forestry ACT to influence logging operation activities. This will ensure that all stake holders participate in the quality control of logging operations rather than what is normally practice where only forestry officers do the checking and who knows, behind the lock doors arrangements to robe the country is fixed.
Anyway, we cant really pinpoint Forestry officers for this matter as they are only part and puzzle of a complicated cycle because in most instances the monitoring arm of the forestry department is often paralyzed with non-availability of funds to travel to various logging operations for monitoring purporses which means that most shipments left unattended, hence with the inclusion of landowners quality control team, there will be effective coordination of logs and shipments out of the country.
Logging Companies Accussed of Robing Solomon Islands.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Richardson Palmer and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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