Forestry Bill to be tabled before year’s end

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National Parliament of Solomon Islands
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By EDDIE OSIFELO

THE long-awaited Forestry Bill is expected to tabled in Parliament before the end of this year.

Minister of Forestry and Research, Dickson Mua confirmed this when asked by Member of Parliament for East Honiara, Douglas Ete yesterday.

Mua said currently the Ministry has answered all questions and queries sent by the Attorney General Chambers and sent it back.

He said now they wait for the Attorney General Chambers.

“We are hoping and the Government is seriously pushing for this to come in before the year’s end,” he said.

Opposition Leader, Mathew Wale said this is a strategic sector which needs managing strategic resources for the economy and manage strategies to get the highest returns with less environmental and social damage.

“We have a lot of problems with this sector and industry which exploited our own weakness,” he added.

Wale said when he entered Parliament in 2008, he heard about the bill.

“I am hoping Minister, you will be the Minister that will be bring the bill and it will be a good bill and not a diluted and watered-down bill,” he said.

The main objective of the Bill is to make amendments to the Forest Resources and Timber Utilization Act, Cap 40, in order to make it more robust and forward looking in nature to cater for the new activities and developments which is occurring in the forestry sector now and into the future its fundamental aims and objectives.

The secondary objectives and purposes of the recommended Amendment to the Forest Resources and Timber Utilization Act include:

Enable the Act to accommodate changes in the Forestry sector and establish the platform for changes in the Forest Resources and Timber Utilization Act and its relevant Regulations [2005]

The licensing and enforcement of the relevant conditions of the License

One of the recommended Amendments is the Commissioner of Forest Resources” should be replaced with the word “Forestry Technical Committee” (Commissioner will issue License based on the advice of the Forestry Technical Committee).

According to section 10 (1) the word “appropriate Government” should be replaced with the word “Council of Chiefs” and the word “Customary Land Appeal Court” should be replaced with the word “Tribal Land Panel” (as Local Court will no longer have the power to hear Land matters).

Section 17, a fine of three thousand dollars or imprisonment for two years or to both such fine and imprisonment” should be replaced with the phrase “a fine of fifty thousand dollars and five years’ imprisonment or both’.

There will be a Forestry Board established to:

  1. To receive appeals from the Minister of Forestry and Research from aggrieved parties
  2. To advise the Minister to lift suspended license and reinstate cancelled Felling License.
  3. To advise the Minister of Forests on appeal matters generally
  4. Any other matters that are referred to the Board by the Minister.
  5. Make decisions on issues pertaining to all Forestry plantations either owned by individual, family or community.
  6. To call up relevant expertise to advise on technical matters when needs arise.
  7. Deliberate on the Declaration of a Moratorium when the need arises
  8. Deliberate on forest clearance for other development purposes e.g., Agriculture, Palm oil, mining, major settlements, infrastructure developments,
  9. To advise the government of the day on Forest Policy issues, e.g., policy review.
  10. Forestry Board’s decision is final

Furthermore, the Ministry of Forestry and Research will put in place a Budget for all Timber Rights Hearing.


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