Timber Companies Suspended for Illegal Logging in the Solomon Islands

a logging camp at Ngoibo Isabel Province
The Island Sun
,
Solomon Islands

Timber Companies Suspended for Illegal Logging in the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Forest Association (SFA) recently suspended two of its members over their illegal harvesting of the restricted Tubi trees in Isabel Province.

The action follows a recent Island Sun exposure of the illegal activities of two Malaysian logging companies – Sunrise Investment Ltd and Mas Solo Investment Ltd.

“We have already suspended the memberships of Sunrise and Mas Solo after assessing the illegality of their activities,” SFA President Johnny Sy told the Island Sun.

He said their action paves the way for the Ministry of Forestry to cancel the felling licenses of these two companies.

The office of the Commissioner of Forest has not responded to questions sent to them for comments.

Both companies have also pulled out their operations from Isabel after the Island Sun exposure, although their licenses were still valid.

“They’ve already shipped their machines out from Korona and Lelegia,” landowner Samuel Efulu told the Island Sun.

“Your recent report has put them in a bad light so they have no option but to pack up and go,” Efulu added.

Sunrise used to operate at Korona, on the island of San Jorge, while Mas Solo was given the Lelegia concession on the mainland of Isabel. Both companies obtained valid logging licenses. But those licenses did not cover the harvest of Tubi, a restricted tree species.

Yet, they went ahead and fell thousands of tonnes of Tubi logs at the two concessions since early 2020. They were only stopped when landowners obtained a court order against their illegal felling of the Tubi trees.

Last December, Sunrise Ltd owner Richard Song Sing Ngea pleaded guilty to the illegal harvesting of Tubi in the Magistrates Court and was fined $50,000 – the maximum fine for the offence.

Sy, a Philippines national and owner of Bulacan logging company, said Sunrise and Mas Solo have brought SFA to disrepute through their illegal activities in Isabel. “We don’t have powers to cancel felling licences,” Sy explained. “We only suspend their membership and that’s all we can do,” he added.

“Only Forestry and the Courts have the power. If Forestry decides to let them continue then we can’t do anything," added Sy, who noted the two logging companies have the right to appeal.

Local environmental activist Lawrence Makili says foreign loggers who deliberately violated the country’s laws must be deported. “Why are we still keeping these loggers here when they showed no respect to our resources and laws?” Makili asked.

“Loggers with a no-care attitude must not be entertained in the Solomons,” he added.


This story was supported by Internews' Earth Journalism Network. It was originally published on 28 June 2021 in The Island Sun and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Banner image: The logging camp at Ngoibo, Isabel province / Credit: Ofani Eremae. 

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