SOLOMON ISLANDS DEVELOPMENT TRUST

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Honiara, Solomon Islands

GREENPEACE PACIFIC Suva, Fiji Islands

NEWS RELEASE July 30, 1999

SOLOMON ISLANDS DEVELOPMENT TRUST AND GREENPEACE CHALLENGE OIL PALM DECISION

The Solomon Islands Development Trust (SIDT) and Greenpeace support Marovo landowners in their opposition to the signing yesterday of the oil palm plantation on Vangunu Island.

"It is a mistake to go against the wishes of the majority of the landowners in Marovo in signing this lease. You would think the government would learn from Bougainville and now Guadalcanal to realize the importance of addressing landowner concerns," said Felix Narasia from SIDT.

"The government claims wide consultation with the people but they haven't listened or responded to the concerns raised by Vangunu landowners and Non-governmental Organizations," said Narasia.

An economic report released by Greenpeace and SIDT in April this year raised many issues around the environmental, social, and economic costs and benefits of the oil palm plantation compared with village-based enterprises such as ecotimber, fishing, carving, and ecotourism. It also questioned the employment predictions for the oil palm project with most of the jobs for local people being poorly paid unskilled work.

"Silvania claimed yesterday they were doing the oil palm project for the benefit of the local people. Yet research by an independent resource economist from the USA found oil palm to not be the best development option for local people," said Grant Rosoman, Greenpeace Pacific Forests Campaigner.

"The government and company press release states that 'stakeholders will have to make some short-term sacrifices.' These sacrifices are clearly environmental and social costs and risks faced by local communities, while the company and the government take the profit," said Rosoman.

"Our research shows that considerable employment is being and can be generated by village-based development, using and developing a wide range of skills. And most importantly, with village enterprises local people are their own boss, compared to the unskilled hard work on the plantation where the company is the boss," explained Felix Narasia from SIDT.

For additional information, contact: Felix Narasia, Project Manager, Ecoforestry Unit, Solomon Islands Development Trust, Phone: 677-22289 Grant Rosoman, Forests Campaigner, Greenpeace Pacific Phone: (643) 382-5439, or Samantha Magick, Media Officer, Greenpeace Pacific Phone: (679) 312-861

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