|Solomon Islands to manage forests better for green growth|
|Friday, 22 March 2013 20:15|
Friday 15 March 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) – Suva
Solomon Islands must enforce its forest legislation and code of harvesting practise to protect its valuable forest resources. This message was emphasised at the Solomon Islands Prime Minister’s roundtable on ‘Development, Society and the Environment’ held in Honiara on 4–6 March 2013. The roundtable, attended by more than 30 participants from various sectors and agencies, was convened to discuss Solomon Islands’ efforts to move towards a green economy.The gathering agreed on the need to develop a Green Growth Development Framework (GGDF) for the country and decided to establish a regular green economy platform to guide the development process. The GGDF aims to promote sustainable resource management, strengthen resilience with respect to climate change and establish innovative partnerships between development entrepreneurs.
The green growth of the forestry sector is a contentious issue given that the current conventional logging practice has made the sector one of the highest contributors to Solomon Islands’ gross domestic product. In addition, the country’s biodiversity-rich forests are under threat from other sectors that make major fiscal contributions, such as mining.
Dr Wulf Killmann, Director of the SPC (Secretariat of the Pacific Community)/GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region programme and keynote presenter for the forestry session, said that there is a need to balance social, economic and environmental needs to ensure that forests are managed sustainably. Whilst attaining this balance may be difficult, Dr Killmann said that this can be achieved through proper land use planning, active participatory processes in planning and decision-making, enforcement of supporting legislation and good governance in the timber trade. The participation of the forest industry is necessary in all of the above measures.
For the reforestation and recovery of cleared and degraded forest areas, Dr Killmann urged Solomon Islands to get some ideas from the Costa Rica Payment of Ecosystem Services (PES) approach that resulted in the country increasing forest cover from 21% in 1987 to 40% in 2000. Under the PES concept, users pay for forest services. In Costa Rica this was implemented through legislated tax, agreements with public institutions and private companies, and public donations (for clean air travel, pure water, etc.). The funds helped provide loans for activities and projects on sustainable forest management, afforestation, reforestation and forest utilisation.
The outcomes of the Prime Minister’s roundtable were presented at the Melanesian Spearhead Group Environment and Climate Change Ministers meeting in Nadi on 8 March 2013. The minsters applauded the efforts of Solomon Islands and expressed enthusiasm for a similar GGDF and consultation process in their country.