Vanuatu Government assists communities with over Vt12 million worth of Sawmills

The Government of Vanuatu has again assisted local communities with over Vt12 million worth of Sawmills as part of its effort to response, recovery and reconstruction efforts to its people to the effects of Tropical Cyclone Pam.

The official handing over of the 9 Lucas Mills and 18 mini-mills took place at the Department of Forestry Office in Port Vila between the Director of Forests Hanington Tate and the Acting Director of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department (VMGD) this week witnessed by staff of both Departments and Donors.

The handing over ceremony largely contributes to the progress of the Government’s recovery plan and an important partnership initiative established between the Vanuatu Government and its donor partners in providing such important assets to the recovery efforts especially related to shelter needs for affected communities.

The Department of Forests is taking lead in this initiative by putting together an Action Plan, supported by the UNDP in collaboration with the project and NGO partners, to salvage and utilize fallen trees in the affected communities mainly in Tafea and Shefa as the two most affected Provinces. This is to help people build back their houses damaged and destroyed by cyclone Pam.

According to the Department of Forests records, some 90 hectares of woodlot were newly established in 2014 in Tafea province and some 109 hectares in the central region including Shefa province. This is in addition to some 1,400 hectares of woodlot previously established in Tafea and some 500 hectares in Shefa Province. All these plantations were damaged by the recent cyclone and the mature trees required milling.

Therefore this plan will mainly assist small holder woodlot farmers and community based forestry within these two Provinces with portable and mobile sawmills. The decision taken by the Government in bringing this action together was based on the amount of trees destroyed in the two Provinces during the recovery and reconstruction assessments.

The Forestry Director Hanington Tate in receiving the Sawmills said, These sawmills will benefit our communities as the use of milled timber will help them build strong and resilient houses and reduce the demand for imported timbers. This action plan is also timely now that the Government has now gone into the recovery phase of Cyclone Pam”.

The distribution will begin next month following the successful completion of up to 3 days trainings to sawmill operators which will be conducted by the Department of Forests. The islands who will benefit from these forestry tools are Epi, Bunigna, Tongariki, Tongoa, Emae, Makira, Efate, Erromango, Aneityum and Tanna.

The government through the National Disaster Management Office and the Department of Forests will have control over the mills which will be delivered based on satisfactory trainings to local operators,” Director Tate said.

The purchasing of the mills was made possible through the Increasing Resilience to Climate Change and Natural Hazards (IRCCNH) Project currently managed by the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department (VMGD) through its Project Management Unit (PMU). The project is jointly funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the European Union (EU) and the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction (GFDRR).

The IRCCNH project is a Government owned Project with an overall development objective to help increase the resilience of communities in Vanuatu to the impacts of climate variability and change and natural hazards on shelter, water supply as well as livelihoods. 

With this objective, it was the Government’s wish to use some of the project resources to contribute to the Government-led recovery efforts as an immediate response to the effects of Tropical Cyclone Pam. This decision, part of the Post Pam Action Plan of the IRCCNH project, was also critical since our country’s population is highly reliant on its forests for building materials and generating income from timber sales.

David Gibson Acting Director of VMGD and Project Director of the IRCCNH Project in Vanuatu acknowledged the collaboration between the Government Departments which is now reflecting the project aim to reaching the communities affected by the impacts of climate change and disasters.

Distribution work will be facilitated through the coordination of the Department of Forests.

For more information regarding the sawmills please contact VMGD on 24686, email or Director Department of Forestry on 5466607, email