VILLAGERS in east Are’are, Malaita, fear for their environment after a logging company destroyed two hectares of virgin mangrove forest.
MEGA logging company landed at Rurata in March this year and in the process of building a wharf, destroyed the community’s mangrove trees.
“They not only destroyed our mangroves, but also our reef because they extract corals from there to build the wharf,” community leader Tony Atitete told the Solomon Star.
“Our greatest fear now is they are likely to do more damage to our environment when their operations start,” Mr Atitete pointed out.
“There presence is a concern to us.”
Mr Atitete said the site where the wharf was built was never mentioned in the logging papers.
“According to papers I have cited, the logging company should land at Sumasike, not Rurata.
“So their action in building the wharf and destroying our mangroves is illegal.
"Two hectares of thick mangroves forest has already been destroyed after one community allowed the logging company to build their wharf on land they are not supposed to enter.
"Not only that, but the machines have also destroyed our coral reefs.
"The site that was cleared was once covered with thick mangroves.
“This is where women from the surrounding communities usually come and collect mud shell and crabs for their daily meals.
“But now because of this logging, the women will have to go beyond the area for mud shell, mud crabs and fish.
“Not only that, since the arrival of MEGA logging company in the area, the community started to see some changes like the sea is now turning muddy and dark.
“The mangroves are now gone and the reefs are now left with no fish friendly habitats as the coral stones were being removed for the construction of the new wharf.
“I call on the Ministry of Forest to come and investigate this matter,” Mr Atitete said.
He added that they feared the Puriasi Management Area, an area that the Mararo community put under conservation as a marine protected area, will most likely be disturbed when the logging company operates.
Comments are being sought from MEGA and the Ministry of Forest.
By BIRA’AU W. SAENI
Villagers fear for environment