WP eyes new forestry plantations

WP eyes new forestry plantations

THE Western Provincial Government under the leadership of Premier Billy Veo plans to establish another four forestry plantations in the province.

In an exclusive interview with Solomon Star Gizo, Premier Veo said this plan is part of the provincial government’s preparation for its adoption of the proposed Federal Government System.

He said his government’s plan is to have new forestry plantations in Mereusu at Vangunu, Marovo, Rendova, Vella and also at Alu in Shortland Islands.

“My government’s plan is to develop four forestry plantations in these islands.”

He said the priority areas are Mereusu and Alu.

“My government’s first priority will be to develop Alu and Mereusu.”

When asked how soon the plan will be implemented, Premier Veo said, “As long as there is an interested investor who says yes and who is willing to operate, we will allow them to move in.”

Premier Veo said such development is important to allow resource owners and people within the region to benefit.

“Such development is important so that these investors can develop the place, provide employment and out-growers can also benefit from the industry,” he added.

The premier said his government is looking at implementing a similar concept to the one undertaken by Eagon Pacific Plantation (EPPL) at Arara near Viru and Kolombangara Forestry Products Limited (KFPL) in Kolombangara.

“Looking at the benefits that Eagon and KFPL bring to the people of communities they are operating in, my government wants to see as we move forward from a province into a state by adopting a similar concept.

“We need to prepare ourselves economically first and this is one area.

“My target is to engage the young and unemployed population in the province because they are a timebomb. If they are not fully engaged, they can cause problems,” he added.

Premier Veo also highlighted that allowing such developments to take place will help stop people from these regions to migrate to centres like Gizo and Noro.

“It would also allow people to return to their respective communities to engage in the forestry sector.

“We don’t want to centres filled up with many unemployed people,” he added.

Premier Veo said as a Christian, he depends on God to guide him in order to lead this province and achieve the plans for Western Province.

He vowed to do his best for the province during his tenure as premier.

“It’s a big dream and I’m determined that my government will achieve it for the province,” the premier said.