NRDF is actively working with Choiseul and Western communities to set up sustainable sawmilling businesses through training, networking and support in logistics an infrastructure. This type of timber harvesting is much more sustainable for the communities compared to logging. For an average tree, a community can earn approximately 20 times more by milling it than to selling the log to a logging company. These high profits can continue for generations if the forest is properly managed. A major boost for this programme is NRDF’s 2012 Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC™) certification. FSC™ is the world’s highest standard of sustainable produced timber products.
Sawmilling and timber down processing by landowners has proven to have much higher benefits than large scale logging, resulting in less environmental damage, less social unrest and the operations are more sustainable in regards to the future availability of forest resources.
Since 2003, NRDF has assisted forest owners to start small sawmill operations and currently six partners are running sustainable sawmill operations in forest areas in the Western and Choiseul provinces of which two are FSC™ certified. Sawn timber is produced mainly for community building projects, private housing and in some timber export. The current operations employ an average of 30 full time workers engaging many more casual based employees. When managed well a sawmill operation is able to earn an annual gross income of more than $SBD 300,000
The NRDF partners are using specific management guidelines to practise good forest management, which includes activities such as land use planning, area mapping & surveying, tree selection, directional felling and replanting. NRDF wants to certify all its sawmill projects under its FSC™ group management certificate. This will open new markets in Australia and Europe, bringing in extra benefits for the forest owners as prices are considerably higher than the standard timber export prices.
To promote and support sustainable timber harvesting and forest management by local landowners and communities, as an alternative for destructive, large-scale logging operations.
- FSC™ certification for all sawmill operations in current NRDF project areas (possibly extend to other areas);
- Local and national awareness building to encourage Sustainable Forest Management & Conservation;
- Write a practical “Forestry Handbook” for rural communities to build capacity and skills in sustainable forest management.
Thanks to Wilko Bosma and friends for these beautiful images: