Chief Forest Officer gives statistics on Rosewood logging

During the April 8 – 25 amnesty on rosewood introduced to the chagrin of many Belizeans by the Forest Department to bring order to the rampant chaos of the trade, some 400,000 board feet of rosewood was collected, all from the Toledo District. The total profit is expected to be some $200,000, consisting of sales of raw product and value-added product. Chief Forest Officer Wilber Sabido gives details.

Wilber Sabido – Chief Forest Officer:
vlcsnap-2013-05-22-19h31m44s142At this point in terms of what has been declared and what we have measured, we’re talking about a total of four hundred thousand board feet that has been declared to the Forest Department.  Actually in total royalty, we’re close to two hundred thousand dollars paid in terms of royalty. In terms of tonnage, we’re talking about close to 580 tons of Rosewood, which is in a sense equivalent to that four hundred thousand board feet that i mentioned before.  Now all of the Rosewood that has been declared has actually been measured in the Toledo District.  We also have a portion of the Rosewood that has been measured that is set for exportation as raw product, as fliches, has had been originally been exported in the past.  But we also have some companies that have bought Rosewood so that they can add value to it, in the form of marimba strips, or blanks, knife/fork/spoon handles, that they export as blanks, which is actual value-added products, that they have a keen interest in expanding, in terms of their product line.

Wilber Sabido says the Department is keeping a close eye on unscrupulous operators attempting to pass off more freshly cut rosewood as having come under the amnesty and making sure Government is not cheated of the 50% stake in profits it called for under the amnesty.

Wilber Sabido – Chief Forest Officer:
vlcsnap-2013-05-22-19h26m10s123We saw some that was actually cut that we felt was cut during the time that you mentioned. I mean post-date, the period that we said we would not be accepting ant more harvesting of Rosewood. But based on our estimate it was only a small percentage, probably  about one to five per-cent  of the total that has been declared. Certainly it does take a very keen eye in terms of being able determine if it’s old material versus new material. My officers are knowledgeable in that.  We also did receive reports, and i think the media reported it, in terms of material that was being continuously harvested, even after that period that we opened. But really, we haven’t encountered that volume of material being declared to us.

Chief Forest Officer Sabido went on to discuss the checks and balances being put in by the Department for proper verification of declared rosewood.

Wilber Sabido – Chief Forest Officer:
vlcsnap-2013-05-22-19h25m38s41From way back I have spoken on that, and I believe that the Minister made absolutely clear her position in terms of alleged corruption in the Forest Department and throughout her Ministry.  Certainly that is something that I too an very concerned about, in terms of the allegations. Now i do recognize that, for the Toledo District especially,  there have been numerous allegations, and what we have done in essence is we’ve rotated staff out of the Machaca Forest Station.  When we receive what we believe are sound reports in terms of illegal logging, that don’t end in the Toledo District, but throughout the country, we respond immediately through a newly established program called “The Law Enforcement and Public Outreach Program.”  Basically, officers not from the ranges themselves investigate, but rather it’s a group of senior staff that operate out of Belmopan, to respond to these reports.

The Department intends to move forward with an inventory check of the three types of rosewood species listed under the CITES Appendix II regulations.

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