A one-day workshop to allow timber exporters and dealers to better understand and meet certain requirements before exporting their product overseas was held on Tuesday.
The workshop was facilitated by the ministry of forestry and the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access program (PHAMA).
It focused on the ministry’s forthcoming program of monitoring and verification activities, which will include monitoring of timber volumes and inspections of timber to verify its source before being exported.
Participates also took a visit to the Value Added Timber Association (VATA) facility at Henderson, East Honiara for a practical demonstration of the inspection process.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, the ministry’s permanent secretary Barnabas Anga said that sawn timber is a significant and growing industry.
“The value of sawn timber exports was around $85 million in 2013 and there are around 1,000 people employed in sawmill and timber yards, with many more local people involved in timber production.
“Important international markets, such as Australia and New Zealand now required that imported timber has been legally produced.
“Australia, the largest market for timber exports, introduced the Australian Illegal logging Prohibition Act in November 2012, which will come into full effect from November 2014,” he said.
Anga said that market requirements means that Solomon Islands exporters will need to demonstrate that the source of timber is known and that its legal production can be verified.
“Producers that cannot meet these requirements may no longer be able to sell into these markets,” he added.
He said the ministry has been working with the timber industry and PHAMA to develop timber legality guidelines for SI.
“The forthcoming monitoring and verification activities will support implementation of the guidelines and help maintain access to these important international markets,” he said.
He revealed that PHAMA is an Australian aid program working across Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa to assist those countries to improve exports of primary products.
“This is a valuable opportunity for SI sawn timber producers and exporters to obtain a better understanding of the ministry of forestry’s forthcoming verification program for sawn timber sector.”
The ministry is working closely with PHAMA to facilitate this important one-day workshop, which will allow for discussion of the verification program and for the industry to comment on its implementation.
The workshop was attended by forest officers, representatives of sawmills and timber exporters and businesses.
By Stephen Diisango