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Focus on Forests (text version)

Kolombangara Forest Products Ltd (KFPL), Solomon Islands

Until recently, much of the land of the Solomon Islands was covered with dense natural rainforest. The people here have lived for centuries on what they could get from the forest and the sea. Now, the Government is allowing logging companies, mostly from S E Asia, to carelessly cut huge areas. Very quickly weeds and creepers smother any new sprouting trees, preventing the forest from regenerating. The poor logging also causes rivers to fill with eroded soil and devastates the coral reef lagoons. Inefficiency and corruption in the Government means that the economy hardly benefits except from the low wages paid to labourers.

photo of devastated hillsides

The Government, together with the UK Government, set up a company, KFPL, which is trying to show a better way with the 38,000 ha it manages on Kolombangara. 22,000 ha will be preserved as primary forest or helped to grow again where it has already been logged. On the remaining area KFPL is gradually planting commercial timber trees. This plantation is managed according to a strict environmental code. To make sure the wood will sell for a good price on the international market, a very advanced scientific programme is used to make sure that only trees of the highest quality are grown. Any profits are used to plant more trees. The company has been awarded the FSC certificate.

Although many islanders lead an almost cashless existence, they can earn money when they do need it by working on the plantations and at the small sawmill where the timber is cut to the high standard needed for western markets. There are also plans to process the wood in other ways once enough timber is available from the plantations to make it worth installing the new machines.

FSC logo

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