ACT NOW says while it fully supports the government’s policy to stop all unprocessed log exports, PNG Forest Authority is misleading and failing the PM to implement the government’s policy

Papua New Guinea Government claims that it has stopped issuing new log export licences to foreign-owned logging companies and is moving to 100 percent downstream processing, are not borne out by the evidence, says community advocacy organisation ACT NOW!

“There are sixteen new foreign operated log export operations that have started up since 2020, according to the government’s own log export data”, says ACT NOW! Campaign Manager Eddie Tanago.

“This completely contradicts the Prime Minister’s claims that under his government, since 2020 new log export licences have only been given to locally owned businesses”.

ACT NOW! says nine of the new operations started in 2020 and seven more in 2021. The latest operation to be given the green light exported its first logs in October 2021.

ACT NOW also says over half of the new foreign-owned log export operations have been licensed as supposed agriculture projects, which have previously been found to be riddled with corruption.

“The SABL Commission of Inquiry found that the false promise of agriculture projects were routinely being used by foreign-owned logging companies to fraudulently acquire log export licences and clear large tracts of forests. The log export data shows it is very likely these very same abuses are still continuing even without SABL leases”, says Tanago.

According to government figures, the new foreign-owned logging operations that have commenced since 2020 were responsible for over 20% of all unprocessed log exports in 2021.

The new export logging operations are spread across seven different Provinces, with five in West Sepik, four in West New Britain, two each in East New Britain and Central and one each in Oro, New Ireland and Western Provinces.

ACT NOW! says while it fully supports the government’s policy to stop all unprocessed log exports by 2025 in favour of 100% downstream processing, the facts show the PNG Forest Authority is misleading the Prime Minister and is failing to implement government’s policy.

“The PNG Forest Authority is a rogue institution that has been instrumental in orchestrating the illegal and unsustainable logging of our forests for the past thirty years”, says Tanago.

“Clearly it cannot be trusted to implement government policy or protect our forests”

ACT NOW says the PNGFA should be completely abolished and a new government institution set up under a completely new Forestry Act.

“Such measures are the only way we can ever ensure community-led sustainable management of PNG’s rich forest resources and the development of secure, well paid jobs based on downstream processing”, says Tanago.

This story was originally published at ACT NOW on 16 February 2022, reposted via PACNEWS.

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