Forest sustainability training in West

9th May 2013
Forest sustainability training in West

How to best manage Solomon Islands’ forests was the focus for 20 landholders at the recent Sustainable Forest Management & Certification Workshop at Leona Village, VellaLavella Island.

Thanks to funding from the Ministry of Forestry and Research, the 23 April – 3 May 2013 workshop was facilitated by Ministry of Forestry – Utilization Division and the Natural Resources Development Foundation (NRDF). Positive feedback about the workshop was received from the 20 participants, who came from nine community sawmill operations from the Choiseul and Western provinces.

A wide and comprehensive pool of expertise was sourced to facilitate the workshop: Stephanie Rikoi (senior forester, Ministry of Forestry and Research); John Sasabule (financial consultant); from Green Gold Forest Products (GGFP) Jeremiah Rapuko; and from NRDF Marlon Kuve, WilkoBosma and Stephen Suti.

The workshop content included:Introduction in Sustainable Forest Management (SFM),

Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC™) Principles & Criteria, Introduction in REDD+ and Forest Conservation, Forest Survey and Inventory Techniques, Safe Felling & Milling Techniques, FSC™ Chain of Custody (CoC), Wood Technology, Timber Grading and Timber Quality Control, Financial Management of Sawmill Operations.

Ministry of Forestry and Research Chief Forester (Utilization Division) Stephanie Rikoi said Solomon Islanders depended on the forests for their livelihood and must manage their forests sustainably so that they continue to enjoy the benefits now and in the future.

Ms Rikoi said the Utilization Division was committed to implementing the Government’s forest policy on sustainable forest management and would be funding more training workshops in the future.“The NCRA Government is committed to sustainable forest management and encourages forest resource owners to sustainably manage their forest resources,” she said.

The closing ceremony of the workshop was attended by Commissioner of Forest Mr. Reeves Moveni, his deputies Fred Pitasopa and Terrence Titiulu, and two of their senior staff members.  During his speech the Commissioner highlighted the urgent need for sustainable harvesting and certification as the international timber markets are closing their doors for timber that is not verified as legal or is not sustainable harvested.

Co-facilitator of the workshop was the Natural Resources Development Foundation (NRDF). This local NGO supports forest owners in sustainable forest management and gained its FSC™ group certification in October last year.

Mr Kuve, Director of NRDF, said  FSC™  is the world’s highest standard of sustainable timber, this group accreditation is an important tool to safeguard the unlogged forest in the Solomons and provide maximum benefits for forest owners. “We currently have two tribal areas accreted under our group certification scheme and would like to expand this certification process to more tribal groups in 2013,” he said.

He welcomed the support from the Government towards sustainable forest management and certification and hoped that this workshop was the first step in an ongoing collaboration between NRDF and the Ministry of Forest.