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Forest Minister contradicts Prime Minister’s stand

Media Release
Forest Minister contradicts Prime Minister’s stand

The Prime Minister and the Minister for Forests appear to hold contradictory positions on the future for PNGs rich forest resources.

While the Prime Minister has this week given his personal commitment to conserve PNGs forests, his Forest Minister is promoting changes to the Forestry Act that will promote rampant and unsustainable logging.

The Prime Minister said in Indonesia earlier this week our ‘forests must be conserved’ - as PNG looks to profit from the lucrative international carbon trading market.

But at the same time the Forest Minister is looking to Parliament to rubber stamp amendments to the Forestry Act that will make it easier for him to issue new logging permits.

“The PM is being made to look foolish by his Forest Minister. His legislative changes will return us to the rampant and uncontrolled illegal logging of the 1980’s”, says the Eco- Forestry Forum.

The amendments proposed by the Minister will undo reforms adopted to combat the corruption and unsustainable logging uncovered in the Barnett inquiry. The changes include:

- Placing the foreign logging industry back on the Forest Board;

- Allowing unsustainable pre 1991 timber permits to be extended; and

- Removing the NGO representative position from the Forest Board

“If these changes are adopted they will destroy any chances of PNG participating in carbon trading markets,” says the Forum, “as the first requirement is that a Nation’s forests are sustainably managed.”

The Eco-Forestry Forum is calling on all MPs to reject the Forestry Amendment Bill, which describes as “retrograde and unconstitutional”, when it is introduced into Parliament.

The Forum points out that the Minister’s actions will not only affect the quality of forest management and decision making in PNG, but will once again expose the Nation to international criticism for its poor governance and weak leadership.

“Rather than amending the Act to assist foreign logging companies, the Minister should be tabling in Parliament all the Government reports that reveal the extent of illegalities in the logging industry and he should order another Commission of Inquiry” says the Forum.

PNG Eco-Forestry Forum
April 28th 2005

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