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Demand for lumber off

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 21, 2009) – After an all time high, revenue from logging is nose-diving.

This was revealed in the Central Bank’s 2008 annual report released last week.

The report said the demand for Solomon Islands logs has fallen in early 2009 due to the global economic crisis.

"Whilst anticipation for domestic log performance varies, it is projected that production will fall in 2009," the report said.

"The operations of logging companies will be affected like other exporting industries," the report said.

The bank said the volume of logs exported in 2008 hit a record level of 1.5 million cubic metres compared to 1.4 million cubic meters a year ago.

"This accounted for 16 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and $974million [US$139.8 million] in export receipts and 13 percent of government revenue.

"High prices during most part of the year also contributed to the high production," the bank said.

In terms of the provincial production Western Province continues to lead the share although logging activities in Isabel, Malaita, Choiseul, Makira and Guadalcanal also increased during the year.

Because of the threat in forest harvesting in the coming years certain measures have now been designed.

The report stated that in ensuring sustainable forest management, the forestry department had implemented reforestation programmes beginning in 2008 aimed at planting 500 hectares of small-holder forest plantations every year.

"The programme targeted an increase as well as improve the maintenance of small-scale, family owned, timber plantations," the report said.

Also, the department had enhanced operational capacity for monitoring of compliance with environmental practices to ensure that remaining forests are harvested in a sustainable manner.

A new programme will be designed and implemented to encourage small-holders downstream processing of timber to create value added products to benefit resource owners.

In terms of prices, based on World Bank data, the average international price for logs rose by 9 per cent over the year to US$292 per cubic metre. The average export price of Solomon Islands logs remained unchanged at US$79 per cubic metre.

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