By Gary Hatigeva
A total of three felling licences were revealed to have been approved and issued under the basis of agro-forestry in the country, between 2017 and this year.
This the Minister of Forestry and Member of Parliament for Gao/Bughotu, Samuel Manetoali revealed when questioned on the total number of felling licenses issued with grant of profit, by the Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langalanga, Matthew Wale.
In his response, Minister Manetoali explained that no records are indicated for the grant of profits, but clarified that licences were mostly for felling, which includes harvesting of tubi trees for commercial purposes and clearance of sites for development programmes.
The Minister further explained that in 2017, the ministry issued one for the purpose of harvesting of Teak trees on Rendova Island, which was issued to Teak growers of Rendova and Sunway Company limited.
He added that the other two were within 2018, where one was for the tourism development on Basakana Island on North Malaita constituency, while the other was for the economic growth centre development for Gao/Bugotu constituency in Isabel province.
In the term of growth centre, Manetoali said this license can be issued for the clear felling of trees on proposed sites for the purpose of developments.
He then highlighted that following the felling of trees, they should not be allowed to lay idol to rot, but should be used to earn money that would help meet some of the demands that are factored in the costing of these developments.
He however reminded and warned that those lands that are under the status for developments and people are applying for felling licences, must be clear from legal issues and are in steady nature, otherwise, any licences for clearance of sites will be questionable, and might not get approvals.
The grant of licences according to the Forestry Minister, were issued under section 4 of the Forest Timber Utilisation Act.