A NEW proposed logging on Rennell Island, Renbel Province, has further threaten the status of the World Heritage listed Lake Tegano.
Reports from the area said a group of villagers are proposing to engage a logging company to operate in east Rennell, where the lake is located.
The proposed logging site is located further east of the lake. This site is said to be a habitat of rare bird species, flora and fauna.
“They prop-loggers owned pockets of land along the lake’s water line extending down towards the sea shore,” one villager said.
He said the landowners are in the process of consulting logging cohorts providing bits and digits of their proposals.
However, a Rennell man, who asked not to be named, said the proposed logging is likely to be hindered by the rough landscape.
“There are no proper sites for a log point seeing the eastern shoreline was dominated by sheering steep cliffs and outlying coral reefs,” he said.
“Those areas being proposed for logging in East Rennel are located far from the current head road and linking a road through means entering into many other land owned by different people.”
The villager added that no logging company wishing to make a profit would log in the area, considering the cost and geography.
East Rennell was enlisted World Heritage Natural Site in 1998.
Recent logging activities at the Western parts of the island saw UNESCO listing it under “endanger” list in 2013.
The lake, 29 km long and 10 km wide is the largest body of enclosed water in the insular Pacific (15,500 ha).
The freshwater is brackish and contains many rugged limestone islands and endemic species.
The agile surrounding ecosystem is mostly covered with dense forest, with a canopy averaging 20 metres in height.
The site is under customary land ownership and management.
Meanwhile, I Lukim Sustainability Solomon Islands (ISSI) director Watson Puiahi, who contributed generously to the heritage site advocacy in past years, said people will be tempted to invite loggers because past governments have not provided any form of sustainable development to villagers near the lake.
“Resource owners are becoming weary of proposed sustainability projects thus they turn their money-driven minds to logging,” Mr Puiahi said.
He said one thing he fears is the possible delisting of the heritage site in the near future.
“The ongoing logging and mining on the island will horizontally affect the biodiversity of the environment.
“As an NGO we have tried our best to educate the people about the fragility of the environment and its wealth of treasures stored for future generation to utilise.”
He urged to government to step in and protect the World Heritage site.
“Scenic Lake Tegano has a great potential to become a tourist mecca. It is home to some birds found nowhere else in Solomon Islands,” he said.
“I believe that the site would lure tourists into Solomon Islands should conservation are practised.”
Late last year Secretary of Tegano’s World Heritage Association George Tauika made a call to stop mining taking place on the Island as it will directly affect the site.
“Why did the government continue to encourage developments but fail to put in place strict guidelines and policies to protect resources owners and their resources?
“Such practices show the government’s lack of concern for the integrity and welfare of its people,” Mr Tauika said.
Besides logging, a mining company was recently granted a licence to do bauxite mining on Rennell.
By TEDDY KAFO