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Development of the timber industry: 10 years later, the assessment - 04/07/2049

Ten years ago today, the government launched an ambitious plan for the development of the timber industry in the archipelagos.

Motivated by the desire to develop sustainable economic activities in all the archipelagos, so as to unclog the capital while developing employment in the islands to promote the relocation and growth of local communities, it was decided to focus mainly on the development of a logging industry.

Indeed, faced with the implementation of regulatory measures to stop the use of concrete as a construction material, in the wake of environmental protection measures, it was the opportunity found and the 'issue finally offered to a sector in "coma" for decades.

It has been a long time since the local government tried to find a way out of decisions made in the 1990s but without a real development strategy. The Marquesas had been planted with pine to develop a local sector that had never seen the light of day, and the Tuamotu remained on a drip of a subsidized copra market with no real future.

For a long time, many called for the implementation of a real local timber industry given the very useful characteristics of local woods. This is why, in particular, certain species such as the breadfruit tree are known to be rot-proof. Used for generations by the Polynesians to build their double canoes, this quality of the wood has proved a real boon to build coastal structures now highly subject to the pressure of rising water.

It is therefore on the basis of these new needs, dictated by the environmental constraints, that the dynamics were launched and that the local forests were finally used.

The approach, however, had to be organized in such a way that it no longer used imported species, but rather used local species instead. The Marquesas area was therefore the starting point for this approach: using existing pines to support the local workforce and then replanting local species with higher added values. After the first 5 years of operation, the new species have been planted and are being exploited this year. At the same time, the Tuamotu have focused on the exploitation of coconut wood, while maintaining until now the related products (virgin coconut oil, copra ...).

On this basis, the recipient markets were also reviewed. For a long time indeed, the export was only considered at the scale of large states. But these, entangled in the preservation of their standard of living in the face of an increasingly unpredictable environment (and therefore increased spending on insurance, operating losses ...), had to review their circuits very quickly and thus limit imports and refocus on their local markets.

In this context, it was decided to focus on the countries of the region which, again in the face of the rising waters, found themselves in lack of species and forests to exploit their own resources, now under threat.

The sector has therefore organized on a solidarity basis and if revenues remain relatively constrained after the first 10 years of operation, the companies involved in the market hope that demand will be maintained sufficiently and that, in the face of developments of more efficient modes of transportation, it will be possible in the longer term to reach other markets.

A coherent and conceptualized approach that finally takes over from an erratic management that will have for a long time sealed the local economic activity.

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