Greenpeace locks down illegal rainforest log export to protect climate
PORT MORESBY, 3 September 2008: A Christchurch man is one of four activists who've halted the loading of a timber shipment in Papua New Guinea.
Greenpeace activist Raoni Hammer is up the loading crane of the Harbour Gemini, currently in port at Paia Inlet, Gulf Province.
"We're here to protest illegal and destructive logging practices, which are rife in PNG, and the impact this is having on the global climate," said Hammer. "The company responsible for the logging of this timber repeatedly breaches forestry laws, then ship the wood off to places like New Zealand.
"While Kiwi consumers are beginning to wake up and are refusing to buy wood from PNG and Indonesia, the New Zealand government continues to drag its feet around halting the import of illegal and destructive wood."
The timber onboard the ship is from the Turama Extension, a logging concession riddled with illegalities.
With the full support of local resource owners, Mr Hammer and three other activists from the Greenpeace ship, Esperanza, have boarded the Harbour Gemini, climbed a loading crane, and have fastened a huge banner reading 'Protect Forests, Save Our Climate'.
The resource owners and their families are simultaneously conducting peaceful protests at three locations in the concession area.
Forest destruction is responsible for about one fifth of annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Papua New Guinea Government has asked for international money to protect its forests for the benefit of the global climate, but widespread illegal and destructive logging continues.
Local resource owners in the Turama Extension concession area, frustrated by the activities of logging companies on their land, have made repeated pleas to the PNG Government to investigate documented breaches of forestry laws by Turama Forest Industries, a Rimbunan Hijau Group company. However, these requests have fallen on deaf ears.
Today's action follows the release two weeks ago of a joint statement from New Zealand environmentalists and forestry groups, calling on the government to toughen up regulations to stop the import of illegally logged timber.
"The New Zealand Government must seriously consider its responsibility to its Pacific neighbours and do all it can to ensure that emissions from forest destruction do not exacerbate climate change impacts," Hammer said. "It must urgently pass strong legislation to stop illegal and destructive timber entering New Zealand."
Protesting landowners have called for an immediate review of the logging agreement.
"We are here to protest the total disrespect of Turama Forest Industries and their logging agreement with our people. The company has abused our sacred sites, our women, polluted our river, logged too close to our villages, made our food resources scarce and is withholding payments of royalties", said Kemaru Garry Bissue, Chairman of the Kikori Environmental Association and landowner from Kibiri Tribe.
The PNG Government has a very poor record on forest management. There are widespread allegations of forest corruption, poor compliance of forest and environment laws. Recently there have been further accusations of corruption and misappropriation of funds, after logging companies allegedly paid US$67 million into the private Singaporean bank account of a Government minister.
"The protection of these large ancient forests is vital to prevent adverse climate change impacts," said Dorothy Tekwie, Greenpeace forest campaigner. "If Papua New Guinea wants to be taken seriously internationally when asking for carbon financing support, there must be a moratoria on logging until all serious concerns of forest management are addressed, including an immediate investigation into the serious allegations of corruption between politicians and logging companies."