BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
SOCIAL media’s critical comments about Central province not doing enough to address logging and mining issues of the province is not the case said Premier Hon Patrick Vasuni.
On his stand referring to comments by members on Ngella’s famous social media forum (Ngella Forum), the CIP Premier said he can confidently say this.
Speaking to Ngella Forum (NGF) members and supporters handing over a petition to ban logging on Ngella over the weekend at Tulaghi, the Premier clarified that since logging re-entries started about two to three years ago, the province has monitored the documentation, formalities, harvesting and coup plan implementation of the concession areas and actually raised issues with AG Chambers and the Commissioner of Forestry and relevant Permanent Secretaries.
“For your information, right now, the Forestry Commissioner is holding on to three (3) logging applicants for a license seeking consent to fell trees on Small Ngella,” explained the Premier.
“The province however intervened through Section 10 of the Forestry Act in that approvals of Form one (1) cannot be approved outright unless Section 10 is satisfied as a baseline provincial oversight and monitoring mechanism.
“Section 10 requires Central Province to make a State of the Forests Report directly to the Minister of Forestry. This report has not been done in the past and for 2017 is the first one and the Administration is working on it.
“Again as you are well aware of the latest developments, already notice has been issued to the current licenses and contractors under powers of the Commissioner of Forests.
“Those are for alleged breaches of the Forestry Act and Conditions.
“This came about after much pressure and reports conducted by the Forestry Enforcement and Environmental for trees felled and damages to land and trees on the Provincial Registered land at Maleali.
“This opportunity or legal standing by the province advances issues and concerns of other concerned landowners by the province.
“To the landowners and representatives, if there are trees felled outside of the concession area approved by the Timber Right Hearing Process then the felling is unlawful and you can seek remedy for damages or compensation.”
On this note, Vasuni assured that CIP is seeking a logging Moratorium on Ngella Islands as the process is now on the roll.
“CIP will conduct a survey by the Forestry Team in Tulaghi as their data and findings will form part of the Central Province State of the Forests Report 2017,” said Hon Vasuni.
“The report will state and confirm whether there is overharvesting done or is imminent to occur once operations continue.
“If the baseline and data suggests so then the Minister will be compelled to consider and action the Moratorium of 50 years.
“It is a fact that re-entries are done after 15 to 25 years but in Ngella’s case, only after 8 years. This is double jeopardy for the regrowth of forests.”