FORMER Minister for Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management, and Meteorological Service (MECDM) Dr. Culwick Togamana says the hold-up of the Tubi logs at the Samlimsan area in Noro, Western Province was due to lack of business license to export Tubi as it was a prohibited species to export.
Togamana told participants at a recent workshop held in Buala that those Tubis were harvested at Kaevanga and San Jorge Island in Isabel Province and were taken to Noro, Western Province.
He said after he was informed of those harvested Tubi species, he ordered his director to work closely with the Attorney General (AG) to necessitate the instrument to forfeiture and impound those Tubi logs.
“I then wrote a letter to the Attorney General (AG) expressing my concern and copied the letter to the Comptroller of Customs and the Police Commissioner to have those Tubi impounded as those people do not have a permit issued by the Director to harvest and export those Tubis,” said Togamana who was reshuffled over the weekend.
He said the letter of concern is based on the wildlife protection and management act which gives the minister power to forfeiture.
“Part of that Act has designated our role as inspectorate and without coming back to me, the controller of customs issued a notice ordering for no removal of the Tubi logs,” he said.
Dr. Togamana said with the power of the Comptroller of Custom, those Tubi still remain as they are at the Samlimsan company area in Noro until today.
He said since the company concern has no business license to log those Tubi species, the Isabel Province or Western province for that matter should also take some action to impound those harvested stalks of logs.
“When those logs are impounded, the province can also charge some administrative fees to those companies responsible so that on a daily or weekly bases, so long as those species remain on the log point,” he said.
He then highlighted the importance of doing awareness especially on the legislation that guides such species to all stakeholders such as police, those logging companies, and the communities so that there is no illegal harvesting or exporting of those species in the future.
Meanwhile, in a previous statement by Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI), such an issue has put to test the law that protects Tubi in Solomon Islands as the felling and harvesting of Tubi for export is illegal.
“Tubi, commonly known as Rie or Queen Ebony, is a very exotic timber that only grows in parts of South Choiseul and San Jorge Island in Isabel province.
“The inner part of the wood is black and very hard, making it one of the most sought after types of timber on the international market,” it stated.
TSI claimed over the past few years special permits have been granted to allow some logging companies to cut and export milled Tubi.
“This has happened despite the fact that under Solomon Islands law, Tubi is a protected species, which means harvesting and exporting it as round logs is prohibited.
“Under the current law, Tubi is only allowed to be cut, milled into timber or exported for research purposes,” it was further stated.
TSI claimed that the provision for research purposes is being exploited by the logging companies.
“As far as we are aware, none of the logging companies involved is registered as a research company.
“Recently, Transparency Solomon Islands has received reports that some logging companies in parts of Choiseul and San Jorge are logging and exporting Tubi as round logs without the knowledge of the Forestry and Environment Ministries.”
TSI claimed this is a serious allegation which requires urgent investigation by the responsible authorities.
“If these allegations are true, the authorities must step in and stop the illegal felling of Tubi trees.”
Attempts to get comments from the Ministry of Forestry and Research and the Comptroller of Customs were not successful before the paper went to print last night.