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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (PFnet News, Mar. 29) - PFnet has established that logging in the World Bank conservation site near Mbilli Islands in Marovo Lagoon is continuing, despite media attention and a directive issued by a Solomon Islands Minister.

Reports reaching the PFnet News desk confirm that almost two weeks ago, the Minister responsible for Forest, Environment & Conservation, Hon. David Holosivi, issued a directive to the Commissioner of Forestry to suspend the operation.

Meanwhile, in an interview to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Commissioner Of Forestry Kenedy Hoda, revealed that he is now studying the case to see if they should suspend the license.

In the same interview, aired on the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation SIBC's current affairs program Nius Blong Iumi, an officer of the Department of Forestry also revealed that many logging licenses have been improperly issued in the past and the department is trying to clamp down on this.

PFnet understands that this sort of thing happened during the ethnic tension in recent years when governance was compromised generally.

Today, Hoda admitted to PFnet News that his office had identified some discrepancies in the issuance of a logging license to Bulo Enterprise to log the islands of Billi. He said he has asked the Attorney General's Office for clarification on the matter before taking any action.

When asked when he expected a response from the Attorney's general office, he said "definitely this week"

In addition to the Minister's directive, customary landowning groups of these islands are taking legal action for high court to declare that the felling license issued to the Bulo enterprise is null and void, declare that the form IV (standard Logging Agreement) entered into is null and void, ask for an injunction to restrain Bulo Enterprise and it’s Malaysian company Pacific Metro to log the islands and to sue for damages and trespass.

PFnet has also established that the license holder, Bulo Company, is owned by a Gatokae Lawyer, Mr. Presley Watts, as it's managing director, and Pacific Metro LTD, owned by a Malaysian Mr. Michael Lam, conducting the logging.

PFnet has also established that a Gattokae man has opened a case against Mr. Watts for an alleged physical assault over this logging issue, along with a gang on Wednesday 23rd April 2003.

March 30, 2004

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