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Enviro campaigner questions NZ-Solomon Island talks

Solomon Island environmental campaigner Lawrence Makili has described the recent Solomon Islands-New Zealand timber industry meeting as a “total miscarriage”.  Source: Solomon Star

He said this was because reps from environmental organisations were excluded from the talks.

“As an environmental campaigner, I have made attempts to be part of the dialogue but received no positive response from organisers,” he said. “We are all concerned about the environment as well as the legitimacy of the certification process of timbers to the buyers overseas.

“To be honest, Solomon Islands has the procedures to certification of timber but there is no best practice that is practical on the ground.

“This is important because as consumers we have the right to know where the product comes from and whether it’s from a properly managed forest.”

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Forestry Vaeno Vigulu said the certification process was important to the ministry, buyers, and for the purpose of satisfying consumers.

He said this was where the meeting with stakeholders and the involvement of Pacific Horticultural & Agricultural Market Access Program (PHAMA) was important.

“This is to address the legality issue that includes the development of legality assurance guidelines for Solomon Islands, which describes the process and approvals necessary for legal production, processing and export of timber in the country,” Mr Vigulu said.

He added co-endorsement with the Australian Government of a Country Specific Guideline is also important, which will form part of the Regulation to the Australian legislation and help ensure ongoing access for Solomon Islands to the Australian and other international markets.

“This includes the ongoing work, through the Timber Utilization Division of the Ministry of Forestry and Research, to strengthen monitoring and verification of timber production, processing and export,” said Mr Vigulu.

“And the ongoing consideration of the other issues facing the timber industry such as timber quality and supply consistency.

“More over the meeting is looking at establishing a third party to provide all these as an independent organisation.”