• Solomon Islands

Legal framework for forest management and timber trade of Solomon Islands

Forest governance

The Government Ministry of Forest and Research of Solomon Islands (MoFR) is responsible for the overall management of forest resources in the Solomon Islands. Activities include the monitoring of timber operations, and assistance to communities and NGOs on forest management initiatives. Forest governance is mainly based on the following (often amended) legislation:

Forest Resources and Timber Utilization Act (1969, rev. 1996)
This act provides for the conservation and management of private and public forests and the declaration of the state forests and forest reserves and regulates the felling of trees and operation of mills. Although the Act is found inadequate in regulating sustainable harvest and management of forests, attempts to repeal and replace it have failed. The Act had the following amendments:  Forest Resources and Timber Utilisation (Prescribed Forms) Regulations in 1978, the Forest Resources and Timber Utilisation (Prescribed Forms) Amendment Regulations in 2005. 

Revised Solomon Islands logging code of practice (2002)
Solomon Islands had a first logging code of practice since 1996, which was later on revised and became The Revised Solomon Islands Code of Logging Practice (May 2002). This code was designed to improve and minimize negative effects of large-scale logging, the code incorporates best forest management practices within the forest industry and promotes high environmental standards.

National Forestry Policy (2020)
The National Forestry Policy is an important tool for the Ministry of Forest and Research to properly manage and utilize forest resources for future generations. Its main principle is that forest resources and ecosystems are sustainably and responsibly managed for the benefit and resilience of all Solomon Islanders. 

Legal rights to harvest

The primary legislation for managing timber harvesting and the export of timber products is the Forest Resources and Timber Utilization Act 1969 and its amendments. Legal rights to harvest can occur under a felling licence, under a milling license issued with felling rights, or a milling license incorporating a permission for felling (see examples on the key documents page). 

Felling licence
This licence is typically applied for commercial large-scale harvesting and export of round logs. A felling licence is valid for a period of 5 years. Annual harvest plans and Coupe plans are required before harvesting can begin.

Milling license (Type A) 
The Milling license (Type A), is issued with the abovementioned felling licence mentioned above. It  enables the licence holder to process 8% of its annual quota as sawn timber over the concession area, meaning that  harvesting which occurs under a felling licence can be further processed under this Milling licence. 

Milling licence (Type B) 
The milling licence (Type B) is issued to landowners that are harvesting and milling timber on their own customary land. Milling licence holders who intend to use extraction machinery and / or produce more than 1,000 cubic metres per year (industrial scale of operation) must also submit annual harvest plans and a Coupe plan to the Ministry of Forestry & Research for approval.

Taxes and fees

The logging companies are responsible to pay a lodgement fee (registration fee), an application for grant of license, an annual fee, and a renewal fee as defined under legal notice No. 87 schedule 2. Inland Revenue Division of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury is the only legal office responsible to collect revenues and issue receipts. Royalty payment is paid to the representatives of the landowners by monthly payments, calculated in accordance with the formula set out in schedule F of the Standard Logging Agreement. The measurement of volume is calculated from the company’s production figure each month at the log ponds or yards after selecting, grading, cross cutting and cutting out defective materials.

Timber harvesting activities

Prior to actual felling operations, an annual logging plan submitted to the Ministry of Forest and Research (Commissioner of Forest) must be approved. This harvesting plan entails all legal requirements under the Forest & Timber Utilization Act as well as the 2002 Solomon Islands Revised Code of Logging Practice. There is no minimum nor maximum allowable cut at present. An environmental impact statement is a requirement prior to any actual operation or felling and this is issued by the Ministry of Environment, Disaster Management, Climate Change & Meteorology. All protected sites must be identified and clearly marked on the map and in the field.

Felling assessments are normally conducted according to the 2002 Solomon Islands Revised Code of Logging Practice as field auditing assessment and done quarterly. Practically, this assessment is now conducted on coups that are completed to verify that decommissioning has been conducted accordingly.

Third parties’ rights

Resource owners in the case of commercial logging have rights to access forest areas to hunt, collect fuel wood, do farming, use non wood forest products, do timber cutting for building houses, as well as protect forest areas of cultural importance. In situations where felling license conditions were breached and the feeling license is cancelled, the right to change the user right to a new user is required, by the Ministry of Forest and Research.

Trade and transport

To export timber products from Solomon Islands, an exporter must obtain the following documents (Country Specify Guidelines for Solomon Islands, 2014):

A Permit to Export approved by the Ministry of Forestry and Research. The application for the Permit to Export must detail the relevant license numbers, volume, species and value of the timber being exported, as well as documentation of the sale arrangements.

An application for a Permit to Export should be made to the Commissioner of Forests for each export consignment. The signature and stamp of the commissioner should appear on every permit, together with a unique numerical 'identifier'. The approved Permit to Export will include the following information:

  • Licence number/s from which the timber has been sourced (which demonstrates the
    origin of the timber)
  • Name and address of seller (Solomon Islands) and buyer (abroad)
  • Container number (s) of the timber being exported
  • The species and volume of the timber and
  • The type of product and lumber seizes

Additionally, the following documentation must be included when doing the application for the Permit to Export:

  • Packing list identifying the species and volume of timber to be exported
  • Evidence of the sale (which can include a purchase order and invoice, or similar).

Issuing of a Certificate of Origin can occur when an associated Permit to Export has been approved. The Permit to Export is then provided to the Customs & Excise Division, which checks the contents of each consignment and determines the duty payable. Once this duty is paid, the customs division approval is issued.

To comply with Australian biosecurity regulations, timber exporters are required also to obtain a Phytosanitary Certificate which in the Solomon Islands is issued by Biosecurity. This certificate describes any fumigation that has been conducted for the specified container or containers. Note that fumigation is not a mandatory requirement for entry into some other markets.