Forest resource owners must be encouraged to do downstream processing, and at the same time replant logged land areas so as to minimise the disasterous effects of unsustainable timber harvesting.

This is the message that the Minister for Forestry and Research Hon Job Duddley Tausinga emphasised as he took delivery of portable sawmills and reforestation equipments funded by the Taiwan (ROC) government.

"The rate of timber harvesting is at an alarming rate, and in 2007 it stood at 1.5 million cubic meters, which is four times the annual allowable rate" and is therefore "detrimental to the economic well-being of the state", Mr Tausinga said.

Mr Tausinga received the sawmills and equipment from Taiwan's Ambassador to Solomon Islands, His Excellency George Chan, on behalf of the Members of Parliament (MPs) and the timber resource owners who are recipients.

Mr Tausinga said "wise use of resources" as in activities such as reforestation and replanting are part and parcel of post-logging land use.

"It needs no reminding that logging activities are carried out in customary land, and because of this, the people must be supported to reforest logged out areas for the purpose of sustainability", said Mr Tausinga.

The sawmills and equipment are part of a $12 million project funded by Taiwan for the nine provinces of Solomon Islands for reforestation and sustainable development.

The implementation of the project began on March 2008. The final $3 million of the project monies was handed over to the Prime Minister, Dr Derek Sikua by Mr Chan yesterday during a separate ceremony.

The project - became known as the National Forestry Plantation Development Program (NFPDP) - was handed over to the Ministry of Forestry and Research early this year.

Under this program, the project enlisted some 37 Forestry extension officers who are village-based who are offering technical assistance to resource owners in order to develop their logged out land.

The Ministry provided training, allowances and logistics for these extension officers. These logistics and equipment included vehicle, OBM, fuel, tools and other equipments covered under the project funding.

Mr Tausinga said the handing over ceremony is part of the successful implementation of the Forestry Development Projects under the 2008 National Development Budget - the Strategic Support to Reforestation and Downstream processing.

The handing over ceremony "attests to the belief that we, the government, want to improve the lives of many rural people, and thus shows the country's social and economic growth", Mr Tausinga said.

Press Release (Government Communication Unit)