EU OFFICIAL WARNS OF RAMPANT SOLOMONS LOGGING

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By Robert L. Iroga

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Nov. 2) – The European Union has expressed strong concern over unsustainable logging in the Solomon Islands, warning that the country could lose its forests in eight to ten years.

European Commission Director for Africa, East and Southern Africa Indian Ocean and Pacific Anders Henriksson expressed the concern when meeting with top government officials including Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza.

"We believe that the present level of logging is unsustainable and we have seen estimates that if the rate of logging in Solomon Islands is to continue then in 8 to10 years there will be no resources to take out," Mr. Henriksson told local journalists yesterday.

The rate of logging has doubled in the past year after nongovernmental organizations pushed for the tabling of Forestry Bill 2004. The bill failed to go past the Cabinet level.

Mr. Henriksson said a number of resources taken out are not benefiting the Solomon Islands.

"They are not in play in terms of government revenue because there are leakages within the system," the top EU official said.

However Mr. Henriksson said they welcomed strong measures taken to address that important area.

"The resources that are available in the forestry area in our view should be benefiting development and the people of Solomon Islands. In a number of cases we don’t see that happening and it is the reason we are concerned," said Mr. Henriksson, who left yesterday.

He also expressed same sentiments in fisheries.

Mr. Henriksson questioned whether the enforcement of legislation is strong enough to ensure that all the resources available in Solomon Islands actually channeled into activities that benefit Solomon Islanders.

November 3, 2005

Solomon Star: http://www.solomonstarnews.com

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