Thursday, January 15, 2009

Indiscriminate Logging A Factor in Fiji Floods

In China, a wealthy business man wishes to decorate his new million dollar executive suite with exotic wood panels. He is willing to pay a high price.

In New York, a CEO of a merchant bank eager to out do his friends, purchases furniture made from hundred year old native timber, so rare now only found in small Pacific Island countries.

Flooding like we have never seen before is not an isolated incident.

We live in an increasingly connected world.

Those familiar with the "Butterfly Effect" will see similarities in the devastation that has been wreaked upon Fiji by the floods.

A Butterfly flaps its wings in Venezuela leading to a possible thunderstorm in New York.

Stuff of wild imaginations ?

Not really.

Cause and Effect folks.

The Mayor of Nadi and now the Principal Disaster Management Officer Aisea Quminakelo have both spoken out on how the indiscriminate logging in the Nausori Highlands is contributing to the flooding in and around Nadi Town.

Loyal Fijian raised this issue in our last post. Increasingly developed countries which can rely on developed industries to drive their economies are putting greater restrictions on logging so logging companies are venturing out into countries where natural resources are the principal contributors of revenue.

One cannot blame resource owners for exploiting what resource they have to build schools, hospital and roads for their people.

Its a bit fanciful for environmentalists to sit in the comfort of the air conditioned 5 bedroom brick homes with 3 Plasma televisions and 3 cars in the garage and demand that developing countries not harvest their natural resources.

Often we read in magazines and see in movies how green activists travel from far off lands to organise anti-logging campaigns in remote forests of Amazon or in Papua New Guinea railing against the evils of logging or mining companies.

They complain how the lifestyles of remote tribes are being destroyed. But these same activists at the first sign of their 3 year old son Thomas catching a cold run to their nearest doctor, 4 yr old Jane goes schools equipped with laptops for every child and surf the Internet, 5 yr old Robert wears designer Calvin Klein jeans .

Children in Fiji walk 5 km to get to school, the nearest health centre is 12 km away and the doctor has not returned from leave.

The people of PNG , the Amazon and in Fiji want the same things these activists have. They want hospitals, schools and roads and they can only get these by harvesting the resources they have.

No one can demand a complete stop to logging.

That wont happen.

But we must ensure that logging in ecologically sensitive areas is managed and controlled. We must ensure that the landowners get a fair share, unlike what is happening now where landowners are being cheated.

Corrupt officials taking a cut and leaving the landowners high and dry must stop. It is possible for development and nature to co-exist. Blind pursuit for profits only wreaks havoc as we are witnessing.

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