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By Donaldson Rusa

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 31) – Guadalcanal chiefs have banned further logging operations in the Paripao and Tasimboko districts for fear of logging demons.

[PIR editor’s note: Guadalcanal Island is in the province of the same name located in the southern part of Solomon Islands. The national capital of Honiara is situated on Guadalcanal.]

"Our people have been victims of the demons of logging that terrorized the communities over the years. The peace and harmony we once enjoyed over the years are no longer present in the community," said Chief Enock Pegoa of Paripao.

He cited corruption as one of the demons. The corrupt practices of logging companies should not be left unchallenged, he said.

"Although logging is the major contributor to the national economy, it is the source of corruption and conflict. The incidents of alleged bribery involving high government ranking officers and non-government organizations has created fear among resource owners," he said.

In addition, Mr. Pegoa said logging has destroyed the soil, polluted rivers and coastal reef systems, removed trees and other important resources that are useful to the community, he told Solomon Star in an interview early this week.

Mr. Pegoa said the people have had enough problems caused by logging, especially the unsatisfactory economic return from the unsustainable exploitation of the forest.

"We don’t want further problems. We want peace and harmony to return to our communities," said the chief who claimed to be a victim of logging operations himself.

Unless the existing problems were resolved, he said, the resource owners would not give in to any logging company.

He said the outstanding issues – land, logging license, logging and technology agreements and ‘middle-dealers’ – should be addressed before further operation can be allowed in the area.

Mr. Pegoa said the rightful landowners should be identified and consulted prior to any logging operations.

"The resource owners do not need ‘middle dealers’. And any operations should be carried out under our (resource owners) licenses. The guidelines in the technology and logging agreement should also be respected by the company," he said.

As a form of development, he said, it had violated the well-being and security of Solomon Islanders.

Mr. Pegoa said it is a sad phenomenon and the new government must put into place functional mechanism to protect the interest of all communities and maintain monitoring of development activities such as logging.

He said the resource owners from the two areas are prepared to work with the government to address these issues and contribute to the long-term tangible economic development.

June 1, 2006

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