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By Robert L. Iroga

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 16) – The governor of Central Bank of Solomon Islands, Rick Hou, has warned that logging production in the country would break the all time record of harvesting if the current rate of logging is not slowed.

Mr Hou’s warning comes as the much-publicized Forestry Bill was shelved in Parliament by the Government.

Environmental groups have been campaigning hard to get the bill into the current sitting of parliament but to their dismay it was not on the agenda.

In an interview with the Island Business Man of the Year, Mr Hou, said if the current rate of logging continued it might hit 900,000 cubic meters - an increase of 100,000 cubic meters - which is the all time record of round log production in the country.

Solomon Islands’ highest log production is 800,000 cubic meters per year.

Mr Hou said: "If the rate continues we might end up with one of the highest log productions ever since logging companies come into the country."

According to the governor, more than 50 percent of the country’s export receipts was accounted for by logs while about 60 percent of government revenue comes from this sector.

When asked whether the increased rate of logging could be linked to the proposed Forestry Bill which calls for logging controls, Mr Hou said that might be right.

However, Mr Hou said the other thing that is happening is that the traditional locations for logging operations has been in the Western and Choiseul provinces but there was a relocation now to other provinces.

"I think there is relocation of a lot of logging operations now mainly from the West so they are going to other islands, like Isabel," he said. "After a long time, logging activities in Makira are now happening."

Mr Hou said even on Guadalcanal there were more activities now Happening while in Choiseul after disputes were settled logging has increased.

He said there is also a general increase where logging activities have been and where activities have not been very strong.

"We have seen reports coming from those areas," he said.

December 20, 2004

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