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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Reforestation Legislation Discussed At Vanuatu Workshop
Participants review definitions, benefits of planted forests

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Nov. 27, 2012) – A two-day consultation workshop on Planted Forests Legislation has seen the valuable input of tree growers that will determine the legal direction for Tree Growing and Ownership of Planted Forests in Vanuatu.

Held at the Department of Forests conference room at Port Vila, Tagabe, from November 15-16, 2012 the workshop had 35 representatives from Aneityum, Aniwa, Tanna, Erromango, Efate, Emae, Epi, Malekula and tree growers’ representatives from Efate and Santo and the Department of Forests attended the workshop, which is part of the consultation towards developing a Planted Forests legislation for Vanuatu.

In his opening remarks Director of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the former Director of Forests Livo Mele, commended the Department of Forests for taking this initiative to involve tree growers in determining the legal direction for tree growing and ownership of planted forests in Vanuatu.

He also noted the government’s recognition of the importance of the productive sector, and the need for the sector to organize itself to meet the growing demand for agriculture, forestry, livestock and fisheries products.

Acting Director of Forests Hanington Tate, who led the consultation, raises the importance of a piece of legislation on planted forests, developed in consultation with tree growers in Vanuatu. He highlighted that the forestry sector is currently governed by two Acts, the Forestry Act 26 of 2001, which deals mainly with management of natural forests. Part 7 of that Act which concerns reforestation was specific only on the establishment a reforestation fund, including payments and out of the fund.

The second Act, Forestry Rights Registration and Timber Harvest Guarantee Act of 2000, covers planted forests, but falls short of addressing several reforestation activities currently happening in Vanuatu. The Act was developed by a foreign company, interested mainly in the sale of carbon without consultation with the Department of Forests and tree growers in Vanuatu.

Mr. Tate further highlighted the areas that the legislation will cover to ensure that growers of trees and forests benefit from their investments. He stated that planted forests legislation will clarify the following issues:

  • Definition of different types of planted forests – planted forests has been referred to often as either plantations or woodlots. These terms have been used to mean different types of plantings of the same meaning. The legislation will define these terms according to area.
  • Ownership of planted forests and products – this legislation will define owner of planted forests. This will differentiate between owner of land and owner of planted forests.
  • Joint-venture arrangements – growing and managing trees through Joint-venture agreements are currently occurring in Vanuatu. This legislation will give that type of investment legal recognition because none of the existing Acts recognized it.
  • Registration of planted forests on customary land - Forestry Rights Registration and Timber Harvest Guarantee Act has catered for registration of trees planted on leased land. The plated forest legislation will address the option of registering planted trees on customary land.
  • Sale of planted resource, especially logs – the Forestry Act No. 26 of 2000 prohibits export of all types of logs, except for sandalwood and coconut logs. This is seen as an impediment to investment in forestry plantation. This legislation will address this issue in relation to export of plantation logs.
  • Investor confidence – Issues in relation to investor security will also be address by the legislation, and ensure that investors are attracted to invest in development of forest plantations.
  • Harvesting and licensing requirements – Licensing issues and license fees for harvesting of planted forests will be legally determined by the legislation.
  • Reforestation plan – the planted forests legislation will require the development of a national reforestation plan; which will guide major development in reforestation in Vanuatu.

Tate thanked FAO for coordinating the funding under the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) program for the consultation workshop, which will eventually lead to the development of the Planted Forest Legislation.

The second consultation workshop will be held in Luganville on Santo for the Northern provinces from December 13-24, 2012.

Findings from these workshops will be consolidated into a draft legislation which will be discussed at a final workshop planned for March 2013.

Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
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