NATION

Department ‘Not Consulted’ On ACS Decision

The Ministry of Forestry says the then Department of Environment was not consulted at any time leading up to the decision to cut down mahogany trees at Adi Cakobau School
24 Jan 2019 17:35
Department ‘Not Consulted’ On ACS Decision
Felled mahogany trees behind school buildings at Adi Cakobau School in Sawani. Photo: Ashna Kumar

The Ministry of Forestry says the then Department of Environment was not consulted at any time leading up to the decision to cut down mahogany trees at Adi Cakobau School (ACS) in Sawani.

Permanent Secretary for Forestry Pene Baleinabuli said he was advised that the school requested the ministry to cut down trees that were close to the school vicinity and posed a risk because of strong winds and the ministry responded to that request.

When asked whether the ministry had conducted an Environment Impact Assessment before clearing the trees, director Forests Central/Eastern Division Apisai Rinamalo said the request from the school was very urgent.

He said the request was first made to them two years ago because of concerns of falling branches, which potentially had the risk of endangering the lives of students in the school and damaging school property.

He added that he could not comment further on the EIA report because the ministry did not contact the Department of Environment because it was the school’s responsibility to do so.

Mr Rinamalo clarified that the mahogany trees that were cut belonged to the school.

“The issue came up in 2016 when they started requesting for the trees to be cleared. They had requested other government ministries, but they could not clear it so we advised them the best option was for them to put in an application with us for us to cut that area,” he said.

“We gave the licence to a contractor to go and cut it.”

Mr Rinamalo said there was no landslide reported at that location, adding that the school principal was the best person to speak on the issue.

When approached for a comment yesterday ACS principal, Arieta Yauvoli declined to comment and provided the reporter with the contact for the Ministry of Education Director of the Assets Monitoring Unit Serupepeli Udre, who had not responded to queries when this issue went to press last night.

Questions were also sent to the Minister for Environment Mahendra Reddy, however they remain unanswered.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback:  fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj


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