FIJI COMPANY CHARGES ILLEGAL MAHOGANY LOGGING

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 3) - Fiji Hardwood Corporation Limited is currently processing papers to bring to justice those that had been involved in the illegal harvesting of mahogany from plantations around the country.

FHCL board chairman Winston Thompson said they are currently pursuing a case to prosecute those that had been involved with the illegal logging.

"We are looking at taking all those that were involved in the illegal logging of mahogany to court and this would include those who had been removing them from the site. It is a serious offence and those involved will be dealt with," Mr. Thompson said.

[PIR editor’s note: The government-owned Fiji Hardwood Corporation manages 66,981 hectares (165,513 acres) of timber in Fiji, of which 42,788 hectares (105,731 acres) is mahogany.]

He would not reveal the names of companies or places where mahogany had been logged illegally.

"We can not give out any further details as we are still in the process of collecting information."

In a press statement FHCL warned illegal loggers of criminal and civil actions against them.

"In recent times much illegal activity relating to the logging and selling of certain mahogany resource without the consent of FHCL has occurred. People who engage in the harvesting and selling of mahogany without the authority of the FHCL are acting contrary to the law. Every person, who acts contrary to the law in the harvesting and selling of mahogany, will become subject to both criminal and civil actions," the statement said.

FHCL said any loggers, carting contractors, timber mills and or any party, which accept mahogany from parties, entities involved in such illegal activities and are supplied by any party that does not have FHCL's authority, also contravenes this law and will be accepting stolen goods and will be subject to civil and criminal sanctions.

Meanwhile, late last year a clan and a tribe from Tailevu were claiming compensation from the FHCL for logging from an area they claimed as their ‘yavutu’ or ancestral land.

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