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Australian announcement good for Papua New Guinea

The PNG Eco-Forestry Forum
Media Release

Australian announcement good for Papua New Guinea

The PNG Eco-Forestry Forum has warmly welcomed the Australian Government decision to ban the import of timber from illegal and unsustainable sources, as NGOs have been demanding.

In an ABC interview on Monday, Senator Macdonald, the Federal Forestry and Conservation Minister said “I would hope we would be able to work on this and get in place a proper regime which prohibits imports from forests that are not sustainably managed within the next 6-12 months.”

“The trade in unsustainably harvested timber destroys our forests, steals the opportunity for genuine economic development and deprives local people of their livelihoods”, says Kenn Mondiai, Chair of the Forum.

“This decision by the Australian Government provides PNG with a unique opportunity to turn its back on current logging practices and to instead build a genuine forest industry based around small and medium scale processing. This will be far more inline with existing forestry laws and policies, including the new policy on downstream processing, and reflect our Constitutional requirements”.

“This would truly benefit local people and the national economy by providing long term skilled jobs and value-adding. It would also assist in stemming the current corruption that is undermining our democracy and destabilising our country.”

The Forum says that the Australian Government decision sets the standard in the Asia Pacific Region as more and more countries and responsible consumers are demanding timber from sustainable sources that have independent third party certification.

Producing certified timber opens access to premium markets and ensures that the forest is sustainably managed so that the supply of timber is never exhausted.

“The Government and the National Forest Service must show a little foresight and break the current domination by foreign owned logging companies who only want to export cheap logs for their own quick profit”, says the Forum.

“We know from their track record that these operators destroy the forest indiscriminately and then demand access to new forest areas as old ones are exhausted. It is scandalous that these companies are being given new permits when government reviews have exposed their appalling practices and when important markets like Australia are not willing to buy their timber”.

PNG Eco-Forestry Forum

November 18, 2004.

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