24 Mar 2004

Solomons Government official says he may end industrial logging

3:29 pm on 24 March 2004

A key Solomon Islands forestry official says he may suspend logging in part of the formerly pristine Marovo Lagoon area in the Western Solomons.

Large scale logging in the lagoon is reported to have begun in earnest, without environmental impact studies, and leaving oil slicks and heavy machinery.

The Solomons' Forestry Commissioner, Kennedy Hoda, says a wholly owned Solomons logging firm, Bulo Enterprises, may have spread its logging operations from nearby Vangunu Island on to Bili Island.

He says officials are studying whether they can suspend the firm's operations on Bili, which is the site of a World Bank-funded conservation project.

"we are yet to effect a suspension but we are carefully studying it because if we effect the suspension outside the law we could be answerable in court against the company, so it is an issue that is on my plate right now - my boys are doing the final assessments before we actually effect the suspension"

Kennedy Hoda says any prospect of World Heritage status for the lagoon has been diminished by the logging, the extent of which forestry officials are still trying to establish from officials in the area.