The Minister of Environment and Housing, the Hon. Kendred Dorsett, came to Abaco on July 15 to visit sites of the pine forest.
His inspection of the established forest in the north of the island was followed by a long visit to the site of the Bahamas National Trust logging pilot project in Spring City.
The BNT logging project, which started on July 1, is aimed at training young men with the operating of chain saw, sawmill and the various equipment necessary to facilitate logging and to determine economic feasibility. The site of the operation is located in the pine forest running along the old Spring City Road. It is a continuation of the training that took place a few months ago, during which people were taught to recognize and mark trees that were suitable for logging, under the tutoring of a forestry expert, Arien Sickken.
The Minister who traveled to Abaco with another member of his cabinet, David Cates, was also accompanied by a forestry expert for the Caribbean, Claus-Martin Ecklemann and a crew of reporters from ZNS and BIS. Senator Gary Sawyer was also part of the delegation. They were later joined by Renardo Curry, Member of Parliament for North Abaco.
Mr. Ecklemann, a forestry officer with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, helped set-up the project last year in partnership with Christopher Russell, head of the Department of Forestry for the Bahamas National Trust.
During his visit, Minister Dorsett witnessed the various operations involved in the logging process from cutting the trees with chainsaws, skidding the logs out of the forest and cutting them on the sawmill.
He was particularly interested in watching a log being sliced in planks. Terrence Rogers, one of the five young men working on the project operated the sawmill to cut a large log measuring 3.17m long x 25 cm in diameter. Four A quality pieces and one B quality piece were recovered in the process as well as leftover wood. The planks will be left to dry until moisture has evaporated.
Mr. Sickken who had explained the whole logging process to the minister, said that usually a log produces approximately 50% of lumber material.
The Minister was very impressed with the project, visualizing all the possibilities offered by this new industry, as far as jobs and revenues were concerned.
He was told that all of the wood can be used; the pine which will not be treated will have to be used indoors. “A” pieces can be utilized for furniture making. Even the second choice pieces can be reshaped to be used as molding or baseboard, even as suggested by Senator Sawyer to make boat models. The bark and other left over wood can be mulched or burnt for coal.
Several members of the Bahamas National Trust, among them David Knowles – Director of Parks, Christopher Russel, Wavell Hanna, Marvin Russell and Forestry Officer Claus-Martin Ecklemann, were available to discuss the project with the visitors.
The Spring City exercise which will be carried until the middle of August after which time the sawmill will be returned to Eleuthera.
It was mentioned that concessions for timber-harvesting in two Crown Land areas of Abaco had been granted to Rob Roman, with Lindar Industries, one for approximately 1500 acres in the Treasure Cay Airport area and over 5000 acres in the Little Harbour Protected Forest.