Allegations on logging issues clarified

The Ministry of Forestry and Research has dismisses protecting any loggers as alleged.

And clarifies that failure in the allegations raised by the so-called forest resource owners from Shortlands and Choiseul or known foreigner hiding behind resource owners, are raising issues that are misinterpreted.

Forestry Office clarifies in a statement in response to an article carried in the Island Sun Newspaper on 10th of February 2021 titled, “Choiseul landowners query authorities over logging” and was paraphrased, then republished on 24th of February 2021 titled, “Landowners want GG to intervene.”

The statement explains that the Forestry Office stood the grounds to issue felling license to Bulacan Integrated Wood Industries (SI) Limited because, whilst the Western Customary Land Appeal Court (CLAC) set aside the timber right hearing determination of the Choiseul Provincial Executive decisions on 14 November 2011.

It also has two other drawn conclusions, that states:
• “Afresh the decision of the CLAC (western) is still stand.
• “The determination of the northwest area council over Subavalu land is still stand.”

This plainly upholds past decisions, that the Subavalu land is as determined by the Choiseul CLAC.

The forgery allegation on Grant of Profit should be checked or queried with, at the registrar of titles at the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Housing. It is their sole responsibility to deal with such matters.

However, if, “impersonating and forging the signature of two elderly trustees” is haunting them; the right thing to do is challenge the matter in the courts, explains the statement.

It adds for seized forest produce, the Forest Resources and Timber Utilization Act spells it out evidently, that such seized forest produce can be put for sale subject to speedy and natural decay.

The reason being that forest produce (logs in this case) are classified as perishable goods which may decrease its value overtime if exposed out.

Similarly, any one claiming to have interest in any property seized must appeal to the magistrate court against taking into possession of such property within one month.

Did the resource owners appeal or is the known foreigner hiding behind also appeal? Or is it allegations made on tears shed over spilt milk.

The forestry office in this instance has no direct powers to determine whichever party of interest such proceedings be awarded to, clarifies the statement.

The Price Worth Products Limited (PWP) saga is another delusion, adds the forestry office statement.

It explains that whilst Subavalu Community Investment Limited (the felling license holder) is being incorporated, their application has the same trustees that were sighted and appeared in their first initial application which a timber right proper was held.

Attorney General Chambers was sought for advice then; advice was, “…these chambers have consistently held that since a CLAC decision had already been made determining who the persons able to grant timber rights are, the Executive and other parties are already bound that decision. This is because the CLAC is a court of law and established by law.

“As such Executive, having being bound by that WCLAC decision, it would be nonsensical to require a hearing to determine those able to grant timber rights. Those persons (who are named in the WCLAC decision) can be endorsed by the Executive by an Executive Resolution in their Executive meeting.

“One purpose of a timber right hearing is to determine the persons able to grant timber rights. The WCLAC has already settled that issue and determine those persons already.

In any event, if a hearing is conducted, the Executive would have to determine in favour of the persons named in that decision.”

Cementing all these, the latest decision over the ownership of Subavalu land belonging to the Subavalu tribe has been determined by the Seqa House of Chiefs from Choiseul held on the 12th – 14th of January 2021, civil case N0.04/2020.

This was done as an inquiry titled, “Determination of custom chief inquiry”, explains and clarifies the forestry office.

The statement further clarifies that the Barokasa and Kubongava lands are a non-issue. However, the forestry office is aware of the high court cases referred to which are interpreted wrongly to our understanding.

Forestry Office explains, for Barokasa customary land; Orion Limited’s felling license A10404 covering that land was rejected by a Judgement of High Court Civil Case 379 0f 2011, and its license died a natural death after-all.

Similarly, Orion Limited’s felling license for Kubongava expires in 2019 and died a natural death as well.

The issue with Kubongava is, whilst the court case is applied on that land. It must also be understood that there is also another land below, nearer to the coast named Toriki land which its ownership has been determined under 9483 CLAC case 7 of 83. This is not covered under the high court order.

This is a separate land, however the claim made was Kubongava land covers the whole area to the coast including the Toriki land which to our knowledge is wrong according to land ownership records.

This is a total misinterpretation of the land tenure in Choiseul and is clearly, someone of foreign status trying to intervene with his or her personal interest over the resources of the rightful owners and indigenous people of Choiseul.

– MoFR Press


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