Ecoforestry & NGO Movement
WORLDWIDE FOREST/BIODIVERSITY CAMPAIGN NEWS
Logging Update: Business as Usual, with Ecoforestry and Strong NGO
Movement Providing Hope for Sustainability
Forest Networking a Project of Ecological Enterprises
OVERVIEW & SOURCE by EE
Following is an _excellent_ update of the current forest conservation
situation in Papua New Guinea written by Brian Brunton of Greenpeace,
their locally based rainforest campaigner. It details the continued
intensive industrial forestry as well as the promising ecoforestry and
NGO movement which potentially could provide a more sustainable use of
PNG's rainforests. Significantly, each of the major logging
operations and local conservation struggles in PNG are reviewed and
the status of each provided. What emerges is a consistent pattern of
abuses of law and environmental destruction. Brunton summarizes the
situation as "Loggers efforts have concentrated on subverting the
tendering procedures of the Forest Act, and trying to sew up as much
as possible in future concessions. Since 1992, no new logging project
has come on stream in Papua New Guinea." This last fact is a
testament to the continued clout and effectiveness of the thriving
local environmental NGO movement and their international compatriots.
Keep up the good work!
Note: This piece was written as a quick update and posted in econet's
rainfor.general conference. It has been spell checked and other minor
corrections made by EE.
** Topic: PNG Rainforest update November 1996 **
** Written 6:47 PM Nov 10, 1996 by email@example.com in
Papua New Guinea rainforests
First the bad news. The loggers and the regulators : business as
usual. There is a gap between the rhetoric and reality in Papua New
Guinea's rainforests. The rhetoric lies in the words of the National
Forest Authority (NFA) that the National Forest Plan, the logging
code, and the dedication of regulators will bring order into the
rainforests, everybody will make money and biodiversity will be saved.
The reality is that the Forest Plan is nothing more than a logging
plan, ably assisted by the Ozaid funded resource assessment (logging
inventory). The plan does not take any account of biodiversity needs,
because the foresters say that they were unable to get any response
from the Department of Environment and Conservation. The logging
companies are busy securing the legal rights over huge areas of
forests in a new wave of logging. The NFA which has never had the will
or the ability to regulate the forests in the past, and has never
brought a successful prosecution against a logging company, and which
refuses to implement effective bonds over new concessions, simply does
not have the ability to take on the much wider regularity role that
will be required of it. There are deep splits within the NFA, with
divisions running between professional officers who want implement
reforms and follow due process, and political elements who are locked
into deals with logging companies and the culture of patronage.
Now for some good news. 1996 was the year that ecoforestry became a
force. Over the past three years there were a number of separate
initiatives to establish ecoforestry throughout Papua New Guinea.
These were non government led, although aid donors have been playing
an important role in providing funds. The NFA has never supported
small and medium scale operations, although to be fair, it has never
actually opposed them in the main. Certainly the NFA has supported the
view that ecoforestry is uneconomical, and cannot bring the returns to
fund the infrastructure that landholders require. The NFA also argues
that ecoforestry does not have the scale to produce sustainable forest
management, whatever that may mean. It argues that a project has to be
big enough to allow logging over a 30 year cycle, which is what they
say is the length of time needed for trees taken in selective logging
to regenerate. I am not sure if this has been achieved with tropical
mixed species forests, but the research in
this country shows that selective logging is quite destructive.
Ecoforestry projects have been done by the Village Development Trust
in Morobe Province, Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific in
the East Sepik Province, Pacific Heritage Foundation in East New
Britain. New Ireland, East Sepik Province, European Union in West New
Britain, GTZ in Gulf Province, Manus ( medium sized project), new
project planned in Finschaven Morobe Province, WWF Kikori Valley Gulf
Province, Milne Bay Ecoforestry Association in Milne Bay Province.
There are numerous village based small sawmills, which go in and out
of business. This is particularly so in the Highlands which are not
thought of as timber producing areas. The Pacific Heritage Foundation
has a project in Okapa Eastern Highlands. With an election looming,
Julius Chan has just distributed wokabaut sawmills in his electorate.
South Pacific Timbers, a subsidiary of Tim Neville's family company
Coecon has a relationship with the European Union, in which SPT will
build a sawmill/factory and the EU will provide villagers with
wokabaut sawmills around Milne bay and the D'Entrecasteaux Islands.
The oil companies (SE Gobe project) have plans to use trees cleared
along the pipeline route to support an ecoforestry business. Mining
companies appear ready to support ecoforestry in their areas of
operation. Greenpeace Pacific is promoting the development of the
ecoforestry timber trade in conjunction with the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
In September 1996 the Netherlands-based church aid organization ICCO
sponsored an Ecoforestry Consultation at Ulatawa, East New Britain.
That brought together ngos ,small sawmill operators, landholders from
Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanutau (also reps from
Suriname, Brazil, India, Philippines) with importers from the
Netherlands and Australia. A major point that came out of this
consultation was the strength of the domestic market for eco timber in
Papua New Guinea. Most producers could sell all they could produce
locally. The export market was viable but needed high technical
standards. If properly supervised, the export market was viable. At
the end of this consultation a Small Sawmillers Association was
In October 1996 a meeting was held to start a process for the
implementation of national standards for the Forest Stewardship
Council's principles. This was well attended by ngos small sawmillers,
foresters, with nominal attendance from the NFA and the loggers. The
FSC process was adopted by the meeting, and was put in motion. It is
likely to take one to two years to complete, as the requirements for
stakeholder consultation are extensive.
The basis of ecoforestry is the price of rough sawn timber which
varies between K200 and K300 per cubic metre, with WWF getting K380/m3
fob ex Kikori to California ( f course this is less costs of
production which are about K70/m3. The loggers pay K5 to K10/m3 [ they
are meant to be paying K23/m3 on current prices, but the deal between
the World Bank, NFA, and the loggers only put K10/ m3 in the hand of
the landholders at present, the other K13/m3 is deferred pending
project reviews...don't hold your breathe ] Eco forestry put a lot
more money in the hand of landholders. Properly supervised, it has an
acceptable environmental impact. Unsupervised projects tend to break
down because of technical and managerial problems.
The Sandaun Province [ West Sepik Province ], along with the Gulf and
Western Provinces are the last frontiers of vast untouched lowland
forest resources in Papua New Guinea. The Sandaun Provincial
Government has plans for massive agro-forestry projects which will
involve clear felling the rainforest.
aitape oil palm scheme
This is a so-called oil palm scheme, joint venture between a Malaysian
company Damansera and local landowner companies. The planned venture
would cover some 120,000 hectares, but at present the only concession
that has been granted is a Timber Authority for 5000 hectares, which
has expired. A large number of logs have been felled and shipped out,
but the company has no demonstrated ability to proceed with a large
oil palm project. The current activity is centered at Pia. The trees
have been cut, but there are major problems with planting oil palm,
and with land title.
A minority of land holders oppose the scheme, and a majority are
dissatisfied with the way it has gone so far, but would like to see it
go ahead. The project is on customary land. There has been an attempt
by the Government to lease the land from the landholders, and then
lease it back to the landowners joint venture company for the purposes
of planting the oil palm [ this is called lease-lease-back, under
section 15 of the Land act ].
There are disputes over whether or not the lease/leaseback has been
authorized by the proper landholders. It has so far been impossible to
check the title because all the files are missing in the Lands
Registry and the Lands Department.
Damansera are using customary land to access a road and a wharf. The
landholders claim that they were never consulted and that the company
is trespassing. A trespass action is being instituted in the Aitape
ICRAF and Greenpeace Pacific organized funding to strengthen the
forest education and extension work of the Catholic Commission of
Justice Peace and Development in Aitape.
Funds were also organized for a marine base-line data collection for
Sissano Lagoon and Ali Island by the Christensen Research Institute.
The Report showed that Sissano Lagoon is naturally a lagoon of high
sediment load and low salinity, supporting a wide variety of fish and
invertebrates. It is very important to the nearby people as a source
of protein. By all accounts, the lagoon is steadily becoming shallower
which may lead to serious depletion of lagoon fish stocks and health
problems related not only to nutrition but also to sanitation. In
relation to the planned upstream logging, clear-felling will almost
definitely cause a rapid increase in sedimentation within the lagoon,
greatly accelerating and exacerbating these problems.
Ali Island which is off-shore from the Pia activities has a patch reef
of phenomenal marine diversity and abundance by any world standard.
There is a danger that mainland construction activities can
periodically release quantities of sediment which could result in loss
of fish catch. Reefs and fisheries in this area are affected by
dynamite-fishing, and increases in shipping traffic from log
Copies of this report are available from ICRAF.
East Sepik Province
april salumei, hunstein ranges
The Hunstein Ranges contains the largest stand of kauri in Papua New
Guinea, and is of high biodiversity priority. In 1996, the East Sepik
Provincial Government, in its Provincial Forest Plan has designated
the Hunstein Ranges for conservation. Unfortunately there is no map
which officially delineates the scope of the area to be conserved. WWF
South Pacific and the East Sepik Council of Women ( Ambunti District )
have been working with the communities of the Sepik Hills and have
reached agreements with them for the Hunstein Ranges and adjoining
areas to be a conservation area known as the Sepik Hills Conservation
Area. Six areas are included the Hunstein Ranges, Me'ha,
Yerakai/Garamambu, Wakuk, Chambri, Malu/Arpun. WWF is very close to
obtaining large funding from the Netherlands Government to implement a
program that will satisfy conservation and development needs in these
Loggers are still threatening along the April and the Salumei Rivers.
The NFA has proceeded on the basis that the original April Salumei TRP
is null and void, although it has simply refused to acknowledge the
legality of that proposition in writing. To that extent we can see the
total irresponsibility of the NFA towards biodiversity priority.
Instead the NFA has attempted to register incorporated land groups as
the first move to re establishing its concession. There are two things
wrong with this process. First it appears to have ignored the
Provincial Forest Plan which designates the Hunstein Ranges for
conservation, and only 60,000 hectares of lowland for productive
forests. Secondly the Land Groups have been incorporated incorrectly,
and without proper authorization.
Two lots of loggers appear to be active in the area. One led by
Phillip Ugu along the April River with a company known as the Future
Development Corporation, Ugu is from the Waskuk Hills. The other group
which is not readily identifiable is said to operate along the Salumei
River, it may well be led by Gasmata Holdings, a company based in West
New Britain [ Andrew Posai, disgraced former forest minister was a
director of this company].
NGOs which are stakeholders in the Hunstein area include the
Greenlight Trust which has given consistent support over the past five
years, WWF South Pacific, ESCOW, East Sepik Local Environment
Foundation, ICRAF, Greenpeace Pacific and the Pacific Heritage
Foundation. World Vision, which has an office in Wewak, operates along
the April River, but does not network with other NGOs. Good relations
exist between ngos and the New Tribes Mission at Begapuki, and the
Catholic Mission in Ambunti. The Pacific Heritage Foundation has
placed wokabaut sawmills along the April River and at Yerakai and
The bottom line is that there has been no logging in the Hunstein
Ranges after five years of struggle.
East New Britain
This is a large concession that has been operated by Kowa Lumber, of
Tokyo, Japan, since the 1960s. There are five Timber Rights Purchase
agreements involved in the project. The project has never been able to
achieve anything but logging. Its sawmill burnt down under mysterious
circumstances about 15 years ago. Most of the landholders want to
close the project down because of the company's failure to put in
infrastructure, and because of environmental damage. The timber permit
under which the company operates has expired, and the opposition of
the landholders has forced the company to restrict its activities
to harvesting from plantations which are on government land. The
landholders want the timber permit to be re issued to their own
companies so they can control the project as five separate entities
themselves. The NFA wants Kowa to stay, and has been manipulating the
negotiations to keep the landholders who want Kowa out, out of the
Because the timber permit under the old Act has expired, this
concession should be advertised for tendering under the Forestry act
1991. But the NFA and Kowa don't want to do this. No one likes
competition. The NFA wants to give Open Bay on a platter to Kowa
This matter is very close to going to court.
A logging company called Kerawara as the contractor for a local
company called Richard Gault Industries ( controlled by the wife of
the former premier of east New Britain ), entered cocoa blocks without
the consent of the owners and logged, ostensibly under the authority
of a timber authority issued by the NFA. There is a legal issue as to
whether the contractor could log without the express authorization of
the block owners. This case is close to going to
Southern Highlands Province
Mount Bosavi is an extinct volcanic cone rising out of the Papuan
Plain in the Southern Highlands. It is an isolated and undeveloped
area of high biodiversity priority. Mount Bosavi is in the area that
is looked after by WWF US under contract to Chevron. The area has been
under pressure from the Yeungs Corporation of Hong Kong. That company
has connections with Julius Chan's family and companies own by that
family. So far there has been a struggle over the Bosavi timber
resources in which those located in the Gulf Province have been
advertised for development. However after pressure, the Southern
Highlands landholders are holding firm. They have refused to sign
Forest Management Agreements (FMAs) with the NFA unless they get
Bosavi designated a conservation area [ the NFA will agree to this],
unless a road is constructed linking them with the Southern Highlands,
and unless the project is primarily a downstream processing project
with no more than 15% export logging. These conditions the NFA have
turned down. However latest reports indicate that Yeungs have been
offering clan groups K10,000 each if they sign up for the FMA. So far
there have been no takers. This is because WWF organized key
landholder to visit the Wawoi Guavi TRP in the Western Province ( see
below ); the landholders were not impressed with the environmental and
social impacts of export logging.
WWF US and Friends of Bosavi, Conservation Melanesian, ICRAF and
Greenpeace Pacific have been working on the ground with the
landholders. One promising matter is that the World Bank is
considering a major investment with the Bosavi people as part of a
scheme to ensure that the people are compensated for agreeing to
conserve their forests. This initiative needs to come on quickly.
The bottom line is that there has been no logging on or near Mount
Bosavi after two years of struggle. The landholders look like they
will remain firm.
The Western Province is a frontier for the loggers, who are
maneuvering to grab concessions. There are two indigenous ngos in the
Province. IDEAS, a branch of the Catholic Church, based in Kiunga, but
is not thought to deal with forest issues at this point in time.
ECOSEEDS is a new ngo based in Daru, and works in social and
environmental issues. ICRAF has worked in the past with IDEAS, but
is currently working with ECOSEEDS. WWF South Pacific is involved with
conservation work along the border near Benschbak. There are huge
areas of forest in the province. There is an urgent need for ngo co
operation in the Western Province.
There are three Wawoi Guavi TRPs ( Blocks 1, 2 and 3 ), all
administered under one timber permit, which is effectively controlled
by Nuigini Lumber a Rimbunan Hijau subsidiary. Wawoi Guavi Block 3
lies to the south of Mount Bosavi, and poses a threat to the unique
biodiversity of the Mountain. It is the largest timber concession in
Papua New Guinea. It is in an isolated area very difficult for ngos
and the NFA to access. There have been a number of critical reports,
both government and non government, alleging environmental damage and
social disruption. Landholders from the northern extreme Block 3, have
called for the permit to be canceled. In 1995, the then NFA Managing
Director Jean Kekedo recommended that a show cause notice be issued,
but she was stopped by her technical officers. The struggle to stop RH
in Wawoi Guavi is gearing up, but it will be a long fight. This is an
isolated area. The people are very poor. Poor communications
exacerbate health problems. There is a lot of prostitution associated
with logging activity. The position of women is particularly critical.
Labour conditions are poor. Women are a large portion of the workforce
at the project sawmill, which has a quota of 20,000/m3 per annum.
This is an area where ngos need to focus their alternatives.
Makapa is the south west of Wawoi Guavi and so Nuigini Lumber (RH)
would dearly like to get its hands on these forests. Makapa has large
areas of wet land. It is a concession that was granted to a Sabah
based company called Innovision (PNG) Pty Ltd in a timber permit
issued by the late Jack Genia, Minister for Forests, on the 24th of
June 1992, a day when the Minister issued sixteen permits in a hurry
to help his logging mates and avoid the provisions of the new Forestry
Act 1991 which came into effect the following day.
Innovision (PNG) Pty Ltd is a subsidiary of Innoprise Corporation
Sedirian Berhed, a commercial arm of the Sabah Foundation/ Sabah
Government. Innovision has sat on the permit for four years, done
nothing, while trying to maneuver for favorable conditions under which
to operate. There have been numerous legal problems with the permit.
The best view was that the permit lapsed because of the company's
inactivity, but this view did not prevail within the
Justice Department and the NFA, and in July 1995 the Forest Board
passed the buck to the National Executive Council for approval.
However the New Straits Times on the 25th of August 1994 reported that
Innovision (PNG) sold its interest in the Makapa TRP to a company
CASH ( Construction and Supplies Houses Berhad ) was acquired by
Barito Pacific in 1994. The Barito Pacific Group is led by Sino-
Indonesian businessman Prajogo Pangestu. A major shareholder in the
group is Bamang Trihatmojo, a son of President Suharto of Indonesia (
source George Aditjondro " Suharto Clan's Global Forestry Interests"
The Nation 9 September 1996, Bangkok )
There is still considerable competition over who will log Makapa. The
landholders are split between those aligned with Innovision, Nuigini
Lumber (RH), and a landholder company called Pisa, that had
arrangements with the Collins and Leahy group, to do environmentally
friendly downstream processing. There is some chance that there will
be a court case on this project. There is also a good chance that
Nuigini Lumber will get its hands on the concession because it owns
the rights in Wawoi Guavi, and is trying to expand westwards (see
There is a need for ngos to focus alternative development in this
The bottom line is that there has been no logging after four years of
struggle in Makapa.
wawoi guavi-makapa extension
Nuigini Lumber have been very active in the Western Province trying to
sign up landholders over a huge area west of Wawoi Guavi to Nomad and
the Strickland River, and South down to Makapa. They will probably try
to convince the NFA that this area should be given to them as an
extension of their existing Wawoi Guavi permit. That would make a
mockery of the tendering procedures of the act. However there is a
precedent for it , with the granting of the Turama permit in the Gulf
Province as an extension of an existing permit already in the hands of
the Prime Group. These extensions would be another example of how
loggers seek to get around the provisions of the Forestry Act and
avoid tendering procedures.
There are three Vailala concessions. Blocks 1, 2, and 3. Block 1 was
allocated some time ago to a Chinese company (People's Republic )
called Shiesi. The concession is on the coast , west of Kerema. It was
plagued with landholder disputes and bad management. Eventually a show
cause notice was issued. But Shiesi, used its government 's influence
in Peking to put pressure on the Government of Papua New Guinea, and
although the permit has not been canceled, no work has gone on in
Vailala Block 1 for nearly two years. Shiesi is meant to be
restructuring and finding new capital.
Vailala Blocks 2 and 3 are very controversial. No Timber Rights
Purchase was ever done to get the timber rights off the landholders,
but a timber permit was issued to a company called Frontier Holdings
Pty Ltd. The shares in Frontier Holdings are owned 9999 by a company
called Superacme [ with a post office address in Port Moresby ] and
one share by Hii Yii Ann. Superacme is not registered in Papua New
Guinea. Frontier Holdings on its face is an improperly registered
company. So a timber permit was granted to a company which was
unlawfully registered, in respect of timber rights which were not the
property of the NFA.
All this was known to NFA management. In 1995 NFA staff sought to
regularize this situation by having land groups incorporated, and FMAs
signed over Vailala Blocks 2 and 3. They sought to patch up in
retrospect the defect that that they had granted a timber permit in
respect of rights over which they held no property in the first place.
Some NFA staff hoped that they may be able to cancel the Frontiers
Holding permit because of irregularities, and call for tenders. But
they were undermined by the lawyers. In early 1996 Frontier Holdings
reached an agreement with the Minister of Forests and the Solicitor
General that there should be a consent order in the National Court, to
a declaration that the original permit was lawful. A declaration was
so obtained. But it was obtained without serving the National Forest
Authority. The Forest Board, which was under the political control of
the Minister, refused to appeal, or otherwise intervene in the
decision of the National Court. This is another example of how a
timber permit is issued without following the tendering procedures
under the Forestry Act. These dealings have caused concern amongst
professional staff in the NFA.
The German aid organization GTZ has established a small wokabaut
sawmill presence in Ihu. Recent information suggests that the idea of
ecoforestry production is growing in Vailala, and that the people are
resisting the logging companies.
The bottom line is that no logs have been exported from Vailala Block
1 for two years, and no logs have been exported from blocks 2 and 3
In 1995 the NFA issued a timber permit to the Prime Group for vast
areas of forest in the Kikori Valley and east of Kikori. The bottom
line is that no logs have been exported from this new concession. WWF
US is establishing an ecoforestry capability in the area, and has
already sent two containers of ecotimber to California.
Milne Bay Province
This concession was originally held by a New Zealand company, but the
project went into receivership. The joint venture landowning/operating
company was ladened with debt. An arrangement was made whereby the
debt would be worked off by giving the logging contract to Saban Pty
Ltd, the contractor for Gara Modewa, an adjoining concession. Saban is
a subsidiary of Rimbunan Hijau. Instead of the timber permit being
revoked, and tenders being called, the timber permit was passed to
The ngo Milne Bay Ecoforestry association is beginning to be active in
the area. In an adjoining concession, the Coecon subsidiary ( Tim
Neville's family company ) South Pacific Timbers, has gone into an
arrangement with the European Union. The EU will supply wokabaut
sawmills, and SPT will do the milling and exporting.
The Bottom Line in 1996
Loggers efforts have concentrated on subverting the tendering
procedures of the Forest Act, and trying to sew up as much as possible
in future concessions.
Since 1992, no new logging project has come on stream in Papua New
All log exports come from permits which were granted in 1992 or before
The struggle continues.
No Pasaran !
You are encouraged to utilize this information for personal campaign
use. All efforts are made to provide accurate, timely pieces; though
ultimate responsibility for verifying all information rests with the
reader. Check out our Gaia Forest Conservation Archives at URL=
Email (best way to contact)-> firstname.lastname@example.org