More illegal logging in Vanuatu's biggest conservation area

Campaign for Justice (C4J) says it’s very concerned that illegal logging operations in Vanuatu’s biggest conservation area in Matantas Big Bay, Santo is continuing.

This is despite the completion of a report of these illegal operations that was handed to the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation in September.

As of late October, further C4J surveillance shows that such illegal logging activities have resumed not only without an end in sight, but brazenly. And it is not just rosewood but other hardwood timber being milled on commercial scale.

C4J claimed that the rape of these lucrative timber resources are taking place right now within VATTHE Conservation Area in Big Bay, Santo, most probably right before the eyes of Forestry officers and Environmental Protection authorities.

The organisation says this raises the most serious question yet: what will happen to all of the rest of the conservation areas, if law enforcement agencies and regulators are not prepared to stand up and take punitive action against the law breakers, then it is our respected view that no conservation area stands a chance of being secured and protected.

On 5 September, C4J completed and handed over a report to the Director of Department of Environmental Protection outlining substantial breaches of the laws following close surveillance of illegal logging operations happening at Big Bay.

C4J acted following a request from the Department of Environment to conduct the investigation using its own resources because it believes that something must be done to protect local environment and resources for our future generations.

But since then, nothing has yet to come out of the report raising serious questions about the ability of relevant authorities to enforce the laws.

About 10 suspects were named and listed. The suspects comprised both public servants, so-called landowners and private interests.



Photo supplied Caption: Rosewood logs in Santo


Tensly Sumbe