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ALOFI, Niue (Niue News, Jan. 17) – About $36 million (US$25.2 million) worth of storm-damaged timber remains in the forests of Niue.

That’s a conservative 80,000 cubic meters of trees toppled and damaged by Cyclone Heta a year ago.

Despite an SPC/ GTZ German Forestry Report recommending immediate salvage and processing of the logs, recovery has been slow.

Much of the local timber could have been used for rebuilding cyclone-damaged properties instead of expensive imported New Zealand pine.

The donation of two portable sawmills worth about $55,000 has resulted in only one being delivered to the island and that was damaged in transit and is still inoperable. The second one is yet to arrive on the island.

Sources say the combined capability of the existing sawmill at Tuila and two portable mills could cope with 15 cubic meters of logs a day - the equivalent of 6.75 cubic meters sawn, or 1,620 cubic meters a year worth $1.6 million.

The privately owned Niue Timber Products have been unable to make any inroads into milling the valuable timber because it says it is strapped by the lack of access to heavy plant and transport.

Forestry sources told Niue News that for the island to benefit from the multi-million dollar natural resource, foreign-owned mills would have to be set up or raw logs shipped overseas. The project would require a strategic marketing plan.

An initial report on forest damage indicated that if quick action was not taken to harvest the damaged trees, they would be susceptible to fungi and insect attack and eventually rot on the ground.

Most well known and used is the kafika species popular for local building material when green.

A major problem recovering the logs is negotiating entry to land – all timber recovered is subject to royalties for landowners paid by the millers.

The Director of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Brendon Pasisi, said given the constraints on the use of equipment and manpower every effort was being made to recover fallen trees.

He said a new portable sawmill was under repair and there were on going discussions with landowners about entry to areas where logs were on the ground.

January 18, 2005

Niue News: http://www.niuenews.nu/


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