Logging the most thriving industry in Solomon Islands
Logging is undoubtedly the most active, consistent, controversial but yet the highest foreign revenue earner for the country. According to reports on the status of the country’s forest resources of the country, the rate of harvesting continues to be unsustainable and in a number of years, the forest of the country will be gone forever. It is clear the national government is heavily depended on this industry and has not done its part to regulate how this industry operates in the country. More than 80% of this country’s land is customary owned which means natural resources including forests are collectively owned by tribes. This has not stopped this industry from thriving on customary land. It seems that logging is the only industry that seems to have the magic wand to penetrate into tribal lands and have access to forest resources. The sad truth is the process logging companies and their agents use to penetrate tribal lands to access forest resources is not always legally sound and culturally acceptable. The industry is taking advantage of our weak and inconsistent forest laws as well as unwritten and unregulated cultural norms. This is evident in the fact that there is a huge pile of logging related court cases currently within our justice system. That pile will continue to grow as this rapacious industry rampages throughout the country. The issue really is the impact this industry is having on not so much the forest itself, but rather the tribal communities who collectively own this resource. Every tribe who have given consent for their land to be logged has their own story, but more or less the story is always the same. The most common amongst them all is the lasting negative legacy this industry has left for the tribe. There is countless pending court cases, family feuds over land ownership, chiefly titles, genealogy, community feuds with other neighbouring tribes over land boundaries, tabu sites, destroyed waterways etc. In truth, the negative impact this industry is having our local people is by far greater than the flash in the pan monetary value if offers both for our government and more so the tribes who rightfully and collectively own the resources.