By EDDIE OSIFELO
The Ministry of Forestry and Research is intensifying its efforts to responsibly manage the 22 percent of log-able forests in the country.
This commitment is demonstrated through the strict enforcement of the Forestry and Timber Utilisation Act, eight Forestry Regulations, and the Solomon Islands Code of Logging Practice 2002, governing the operations of over 200 felling licences.
Dr Vaeno Vigulu, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Forestry and Research, reiterated this commitment during his appearance before the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament this week.
The PAC was conducting a review of the 2022 Appropriation Bill.
Vigulu disclosed that out of the 22 percent of log-able forests, approximately 18 percent have already been logged and are currently undergoing re-logging.
He clarified that “re-entry” in media reports typically refers to second, third, or even fourth logging cycles.
Only 4 percent of the log-able forests remain in their pristine, untouched state, as they are already under concession and will soon undergo logging.
Looking ahead, Vigulu projected that in the next five to seven years, the entire 22 percent of log-able forests will have been accessed for logging, forming the basis for round log exports.
Regarding the status of round log exports in 2022, Vigulu acknowledged that there had been a reduction in stock.
He addressed concerns about sustainability by pointing out that this issue is primarily associated with the 18 percent that has already been logged.
A significant portion of the forests, around 68 percent, is protected from logging, although some areas are under threat.
The Ministry is actively implementing measures to control harvesting and protect these areas.
Additionally, Vigulu mentioned that new revenue streams, such as carbon and REDD+ initiatives, are being explored to support the national economy.
Vigulu explained that Article 5, the REDD+ initiative, aims to reduce emissions from degraded and deforested land.
It involves activities like agro-forestry, reforestation, and other methods to restore green vegetation and sequester carbon on previously degraded land.
REDD+ consists of three phases: preparation (Phase 1), establishing safeguards (Phase 2), and qualifying for ecosystem payment (Phase 3).
Furthermore, Vigulu highlighted Article 6, specifically 6.2 and 6.4, which pertain to payments for ecosystem services and cover compliance, the carbon market, and the voluntary carbon market.
The Ministry of Forestry and Research’s comprehensive approach to managing the country’s log-able forests underscores the importance of responsible logging practices and environmental conservation.
As the nation looks toward a future with more accessible log-able forests, the Ministry remains committed to sustainable resource management and exploring new revenue opportunities, such as carbon and REDD+ initiatives.
The forestry sector’s role in contributing to the national economy is expected to evolve and expand in the coming years.