Premiers briefed on Malaita’s amended ordinance on Forest Business Licence
BY JENNIFER KUSAPA
MALAITA province has shared with other provinces its amended Forest Business Licence ordinance, marking a significant step in ongoing efforts to address challenges posed by logging.
Malaita is the first province to establish a well-defined law to keep logging operations at bay.
This was possible through the support of the US-funded programme in Malaita, the SCALE-NRM project.
The Forest Business License Ordinance (FBLO) empowers Malaita’s provincial government to regulate the use and protection of forests.
This initiative also contributes to the reduction of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and will generate revenue for the province.
Yesterday, premiers of some of the provinces in the country gathered to discuss the adoption of FBLO into their own jurisdictions.
James Apaniai, a legal expert and private consultant, addressed the provincial premiers, emphasising the significant challenges posed by the logging industry to both communities and the environment.
“We need to do a lot of things on our laws for the benefit of our people and province,” Apaniai said.
He said the policy development on Forest Business Licence Ordinances was initiated by WINROCK to support the province in terms of logging operations.
Apaniai said there is no province in the Solomon Islands without logging operations all provinces have been logged, and problems associated with logging is huge.
He said under the Provincial Government Act 1997 there is a provision that gives powers to the provinces to pass legislation in the form of ordinances on some areas, and one of the areas is business.
Therefore, the FBLO was drafted under that provision and was passed in the previous weeks and awaits gazetting by the Minister of Provincial Government (MPGIS) to become law in Malaita province.
Apaniai discussed the draft ordinance of Malaita province, emphasising the need for legislative review in forest business licences. He highlighted the lack of enforcement in existing laws and proposed the development of manuals to guide implementation and enforcement.
Apaniai acknowledged the challenges posed by logging, including environmental degradation and financial instability after logging activities ceased.
Meanwhile Dr Eric Katovai a Forest Ecologist of the Solomon Islands National University emphasising the critical role Forest plays in the Solomon Islands.
He stressed the need for a balanced approach, considering ecological and economic factors.
He said the absence of sustainability in logging practices has led to a huge decline in forest levels. He urged for a shift towards sustainable logging and the exploration of alternative resources within the forests.
Meanwhile Premier for Choiseul province acknowledged the work of the Malaita province in drafting such ordinance to control logging and save the environment.
He highlighted logging activities is also one of the challenges in his province and he hopes that through consultation and dialogue with his colleague premiers can also help to make ordinances that will benefit his province.