Fires, strays and lease expiry hinder industry

Land owners attend the Fiji Pine Group bonus payment at Drasa in Lautoka. Picture: REINAL CHAND

Forest fires, damage by stray animals and lease expiry are few of the many challenges that continue to hinder the local pine industry.

Fiji Pine Group chairman Ratu Aisea Katonivere stated that despite the trials, the industry continued to soar to greater heights and delivered its promise to the 25,000 Fijian landowners who relied on it for their livelihood.

“At Pine Group, we invest between $2 million to $3 million every year and these annual investments take 20 to 25 years to realise returns,” Ratu Aisea said.

“Simply put, Fiji Pine Group invests $75 million over 25 years and only at the 25th year, it starts to see returns from these investments. These investments are from Fiji Pine Group’s operational cash flow.

“It is just like inviting banks and investors to invest into a bare piece of land for forest planting and then wait for 25 years for the first returns.”

Ratu Aisea also informed more than 400 landowners at the recent security lease bonus payout that the outlook for the wood chip market was not great as the sales of sawn timber and other product lines were significantly lower than last year.

The Tui Macuata noted that wood chip was a key source of revenue for the industry and continued to remain volatile. He added that the Fiji Pine Group continued to deliver past its unique set of challenges.

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