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Security means tackling corrupt Forest sectors

True Pacific security means tackling corrupt Forest sectors

Tuesday, April 6, 2004: Greenpeace has called on John Howard, Helen Clark and Pacific leaders – meeting in Auckland today - not to ignore illegal logging and its corrupt trade, when discussing regional security and a vision for the Pacific in the 21st Century.

The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is meeting to discuss security in the region whilst member countries are involved in the illegal trade of the Pacific’s ancient forests. The forest sector is a major driver of political corruption, environmental destruction and social instability in some Pacific countries. “Whilst the left hand makes efforts towards good governance, the right hand undermines it by supporting the industrial logging industry”, said Grant Rosoman, Greenpeace Forests Campaigner.

“The most important forests in the region are being destroyed despite the opposition of the landowners who own them. This continues thanks to corruption in Pacific nations and to the inaction of importing countries like New Zealand and Australia.” Said Rosoman.

Greenpeace hosted a visit by Papua New Guinean landowners to New Zealand this February, when they asked the government for tougher measures to prevent the import and sale of illegal timber from their land.

Both Australia and New Zealand currently import illegal timber from their Pacific neighbours, in particular, Papua New Guinea. Prime Ministers Howard and Clark have an opportunity to lead by example in the Pacific by halting their involvement in this destructive trade. “If these leaders are serious about true security in the Pacific they could demonstrate this by stopping the import of timber produced in violation of the laws of other Pacific nations”, concluded Rosoman.

Greenpeace recommends that Pacific leaders:

* develop timber procurement policies that ensure timber products can be verified as coming from sustainably managed forests;

* immediately place import restrictions on illegal wood; and

* link foreign aid to measures that will have a direct impact on the reform of the forest industry and support community controlled sustainable economic initiatives such as eco- forestry.

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