Talk over forestry law
By EDDIE OSIFELO
SOLOMON Forest Association (SFA) will go through the Drafting Instructions of the Forestry Bill with the government on Wednesday (June 18) next week.
SFA President Johnny Sy confirmed this in an email sent to all members of the Association.
Mr Sy told members that the Minister of Forest and Research, Permanent Secretary, Commissioner of Forest, Legal Advisor, Policy Director and Deputy Secretary will attend the meeting.
The meeting will be held at the SFA Conference room.
Last week, SFA members held their meeting to go through the Drafting Instruction of the Forestry Bill.
Sy asked the members who have an issue with Foreign Investment Division to kindly bring the show-cause letter and cancellation of FID Certificate plus the Central bank Letter of Credit issue.
He asked the members to kindly cooperate or else SFA won’t be able to act on their behalf.
The main objective of the Bill is to make amendments to the Forest Resources and Timber Utilisation 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 Utilisation 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 
-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:
- To receive appeals from the Minister of Forestry and Research from aggrieved parties
- To advise the Minister to lift suspended license and reinstate cancelled Felling License.
- To advise the Minister of Forests on appeal matters generally
- Any other matters that are referred to the Board by the Minister.
- Make decisions on issues pertaining to all Forestry plantations either owned by individual, family or community.
- To call up relevant expertise to advise on technical matters when needs arise.
- Deliberate on the Declaration of a Moratorium when the need arises
- Deliberate on forest clearance for other development purposes e.g., Agriculture, Palm oil, mining, major settlements, infrastructure developments,
- To advise the government of the day on Forest Policy issues, e.g., policy review.
- Forestry Board’s decision is final
Furthermore, the Ministry of Forestry and Research will put in place a Budget for all Timber Rights Hearing. The total amount should not exceed $80,000.00 dollars per sitting.