“Claims it extends claws into illegal logging business”
THE controversy surrounding Asia Pacific Investment Development’s (APID) land acquisition process still hangs in the balance, but there are already new claims the mining company had felled and export round logs ‘illegally’.
Rennell landowners who obtained documents confirming the ‘illegal export’ of round logs are demanding answers from the Ministry of Forestry.
“We want to know under what license belonging to APID were round logs felled and exported,” the landowners questioned.
The landowners claimed that APID is in Rennell as a mining company and not logging.
“There was no prior logging process followed in terms of Timber rights acquisition because as far as we know, there were no timber rights hearings held so that the company can export round logs.
“Maybe they were taking advantage of clearing for mining but that does not give them right to export round logs.”
The Solomon Star also received complaints from one of the logging firms operating in Rennell, of APID’s activities.
A spokesperson for one of the companies James T. Mark said APID is a mining company and its continuous logging activity is a breach of Solomon Islands laws.
“We knew of one round logs consignment from APID held in Noro, Western Province en route for overseas markets.
“A high court order is in place therefore APID must stick to their business interest.
“We have documents from the Ministry of Lands that show APID acquiring a 38,736.62 hectare for a 10year lease arrangement on Rennell Island, for operation.
“We thought processes in these arrangements needs scrutiny and thorough investigation.”
People from four main villages in Rennell also expressed concern over APID’s operations and landowners are actively fighting for responsible authorities to investigate and stop APID from further logging undertakings.
“While we want the land acquisition process investigated and looked into, logging undertakings by APID must also be scrutinised as soon as possible because this is happening on our lands.
“Now all these scrupulous and fishy activities are enough to prompt responsible authorities within the Forestry Ministry and those in the Lands Ministry to be cautious and genuine in making decisions for this country.”
Several attempts had been made last week for the Ministry of Forestry to provide answers to the landowners’ grievance on the ‘illegal activity’, but were proved futile.
The Solomon Star yesterday reached the permanent secretary who said he will have to consult with the Forestry Commissioner before making any public statements.
““I haven’t talked with the commissioner about this, but he is the person who is well versed with all these matters,” the PS stated.
The PS added they will decide whether or not to release their response publicly regarding APID’s exported logs, only when he consults with the commissioner.
The landowners said they will keep onto the issue because it begs answers to their many questions.
By AATAI JOHN