St. Vincent is mountainous and fertile, and has significant tropical rainforest. Over the years, subsequent Vincentian governments have established three Crown Lands Forest Reserves, also a number of wildlife protection reserves.
The Forest Resources Conservation Act (1992) created, for the first time, a specialized forest management agency to manage the nation’s forests and watersheds. The Wildlife Protection Act (1987) provides for the protection and management of the nation’s wildlife and authorizes the establishment of wildlife reserves for that purpose, and it is under this Act that SVG’s 24 wildlife reserves have been established.
According to the government, the rate of estimated deforestation has greatly increased due to an increase in the amount of areas cleared for the illegal cultivation of marijuana. But I am not convinced that the weed farmers are to blame for tree logs in rivers. I believe those cut by these farmers are disposed of at the planting area where they are felled. I do not believe for a moment that any one of these farmers is going to cut a tree, leaving the root and stripping the branches and bark. His job is midnight farmer, not lumber jack or timber merchant. He is not going to drag those trees a few miles to a river; and, in the main, their territory cannot be reached by truck either.
These farmers are being blamed by the ULP government for the river flooding on the island. I blame the government. The blocked rivers are caused by government logging, or logging by licensed or approved loggers. The Forestry Department should be policing the rivers to ensure that logs do not lay in them waiting for a flood situation.
It is most obvious that the logs are not coming from high altitude areas. Because there are only streams at high altitude, which only become rivers as they proceed down the mountains into the valleys.
The Forestry department in the past has managed the forests, and carried out an operation called “Thinning” — A tree removal practice that reduces tree density and competition between trees in a stand.
Thinning concentrates growth on fewer, high-quality trees, provides periodic income, and generally enhances tree vigour. Heavy thinning can benefit wildlife through the increased growth of ground vegetation. And for tree health, what is called “timber stand improvement” (TSI) — Improving the quality of a forest stand by removing or deadening undesirable species to achieve desired stocking and species composition. TSI practices include applying herbicides, burning, girdling, or cutting.
What we really need to be told is if the Forestry Department has been tree culling and thinning in recent years. Or is the department starved of finance like agriculture has been starved, and are therefore unable to operate. What is the answer?
What I believe is that the tree logs found in rivers have been cut for commercial use by some entity, either Forestry Department or private individuals. Why do I say this? Well the logs are cut without branch’s and roots, they have had the bark removed ready for sawmill application, and it’s not being done at high altitudes. Whoever is cutting and preparing them needs to be able to easily retrieve them. So they will be cut where pickup trucks can get.
The Forestry Officer has the responsibility for Law Compliance and Enforcement He should know what is happening. I notice during the 1990’s that some private lumber cutters were licensed by the department.
One thing I can tell you is, someone I know bought from the Forestry 200 mahogany logs. So I know they are active in cutting logs and selling them.
I also know of several privately owned saw benches capable of cutting/planking sizeable logs. They do that where they get there logs they keep a secret.
Chain saw milling has been taking place in St. Vincent’s forests for a number of years. The roots, branches and bark are left in the forest. The trunks are often sawn into planks and boards close to where they fall. The smaller trunks are moved as stripped logs. But always where a pick-up-truck can easily go.
Let’s stop blaming the marijuana farmers for the flooding; we can blame them for plenty of other things, but not the flooding.
Peter Binose, self-appointed keeper of the whistle, and blowing hard
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].