Greenpeace Finds Solomon Islands Logging and Palm Oil Plantation In

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GREENPEACE, PACIFIC Suva, Fiji Islands

News Release April 14, 1999

Western Province Not Economically Sound

MAROVO LAGOON, Solomon Islands---Greenpeace today released an economic report on the Marovo Lagoon area in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands that found small-scale cash generating development options to be worth three times those of industrial logging and an oil

palm plantation.

"Going by the report findings, there should be no logging or plantations allowed in Marovo," said Phillip Pupuka, Greenpeace Solomon Islands Director.

"Simply, the cash benefits to local people of small-scale activities like fishing and other marine products, ecotourism, carving and ecotimber are much greater than those of logging and oil palm, and there are serious environmental and social risks with industrial options."

The research, by an independent resource economist from the USA and fully peer-reviewed, found that small-scale options had a Present Value to landowners of US$ 29 million compared to US$ 8 million for industrial options. It found that further logging, the proposed oil palm plantation, and any mining would produce potentially extreme environmental impacts on local marine resources uses worth more than US$ 20 million, such as reef fishing, beche-de-mer, shell fish, and bait fish for the multi-million dollar tuna fishery. It may also exclude enterprises such as eco-timber and ecotourism altogether. It found that small-scale activities would only need to decline by 28% as a result of industrial option environmental impacts, for logging and oil palm to be worth zero or a net cost to local people.

"We have analyzed only part of the values associated with Marovo's natural resources, so the benefit of small-scale options would be much greater," said Greenpeace Pacific forest campaign Grant Rosoman.

"It confirms to us that Solomon Islands is rich in local resources, they are essential for maintaining and improving the quality of life of local villagers, and industrial-scale options are not appropriate for Melanesia.

"We urge donor governments and regional institutions to review any support they may be giving to industrial-scale activities in Solomon Islands, in favor of adopting small to medium scale as the preferred development option," Mr. Rosoman said.

The research involved a village survey to gather information on local resource values, used information from the Ministry for Forests, Environment and Conservation to complete the logging analysis, and based analysis on the palm oil plantation on the Malaysian company Kumpulan Emas's proposal.

"We found that the Oil Palm plantation proposal had been based on incorrect soils information. Where they were claimed to be "highly fertile, well drained and suited to oil palm," in fact most of the soils are of poor fertility and susceptible to erosion," said Phillip Pupuka.

"As well, the oil palm proposal is lacking an independent Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, as well as studies in the likely sedimentation impacts on the lagoon as a result of forest clearance and land contouring."

For more information contact:

Phillip Pupuka and Grant Rosoman in the Solomon Islands: By Radio-Telephone to Matikuri Lodge, Marovo Lagoon, Western Province on Wednesday April 14 to 5:00 p.m. (Solomon Islands time) By Radio-Telephone to Tachoava Lodge (RT name "MY Charlie"), Marovo Lagoon, Western Province Wednesday, April 14 evening and Thursday/Friday April 15/16. *To make a radio-telephone call link from overseas, callers need to phone Solomon Islands Telecom through their international operator, requesting a radio-telephone link to the above lodges. Telecom Solomons will call back when they have made a connection with the station and the person you want.

By Telephone to Samantha Magick in Fiji: (679) 312861.

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