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PNG: Greenpeace launches station to protect forest

Greenpeace launches rescue station to protect rainforest 'Paradise'

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, February 28, 2006: Greenpeace today launched a major initiative to help protect Asia Pacific's last remaining ancient rainforests - the so-called 'Paradise Forests' (1) - by unveiling its Global Forest Rescue Station in a remote part of Papua New Guinea.

"Papua New Guinea's Kuni tribe has invited Greenpeace to set up this
'Global Forest Rescue Station' on their land. It will be a base to fast-track boundary marking the tribe's territories to save them from the logging industry and to showcase eco-forestry initiatives to the world," said Greenpeace Australia Pacific's Chief Executive Officer, Steve Shallhorn.

Greenpeace volunteers from around the world will live and work alongside local landowners and eco-forestry trainers at the Global Forest Rescue Station, sited at Lake Murray in Western Province. They will help three Lake Murray tribes establish their rights over approximately 300,000 hectares of tribal territories by identifying, marking out and mapping their boundaries. This will help them protect the forests from destructive and illegal logging.

The launch was heralded by the arrival in Port Moresby of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior, which received a traditional welcome by tribal groups and landowners. Ken Mondiai, Head of the EcoForestry Forum, a network of environment groups working with Greenpeace, said: "We are honoured to welcome the Rainbow Warrior to mark the beginning of this exciting new approach to eco-forestry in Papua New Guinea.

Kuni clan leader, Sep Galeva, said: "We want to say no to loggers who come in and destroy everything. We want to do small scale logging by the landowners in a way that is sustainable and environment friendly."

The Paradise Forests are being logged faster than any other on Earth.
In Papua New Guinea, less than one per cent of them have any form of protection and more than a quarter of a million hectares of primary forest are destroyed each year. Globally, an area of ancient forest the size of a football pitch is destroyed every two seconds to grow products like soya for animal feed or to make products like toilet paper, wooden flooring and plywood.

"This new initiative is part of a global effort to protect the world's last ancient forests (2). Unless action like ours in Papua New Guinea is taken worldwide, vast numbers of species of plants and animals will become extinct, rainfall patterns will be disrupted and the global climate will change even faster than it is now," said Greenpeace Asia Pacific Chief Executive Officer, Steve Shallhorn.

After Port Moresby, the Rainbow Warrior will sail on "Forest Crime
Patrol" to draw attention to ongoing illegal logging across the entire region and to promote sustainable forestry.

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future. It is committed to protecting the world's last ancient forests and the people and animals that depend upon them.

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