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Asian floods provide a grim warning for PNG

Asian floods provide a grim warning for PNG

The rising death toll in S.E. Asia from floods and mudslides should provide a grim warning for PNG, according to the Eco-Forestry Forum.

“The dire situation in the Philippines and the worsening crisis in Indonesia, show exactly what PNG can expect if the Government continues to fail in exercising control over our logging companies,” says Kenn Mondiai, Chair of the Forum.

In the Philippines more than 1,400 people are confirmed dead or missing after two storms in one week created havoc. President Gloria Arroyo has banned all commercial logging in response to the disaster. Rampant logging is widely blamed for the deaths and carnage from the floods and landslides.

Meanwhile in the Indonesian Province of East Java the death toll continues to rise after a mudslide destroyed more than 1,000 homes. Officials there are blaming both the flooding and the mudslide on extensive illegal logging that has denuded the landscape around the disaster struck area.

China has also recently banned logging after millions of people were displaced by floods, Bangladesh faces constant environmental problems caused by logging and Indonesia has suffered with massive fires in illegally logged areas for a number of years.

Forests have a vital role as a water reservoir in the wet season and in preventing mudslides. Rampant commercial logging exposes local people to natural disasters as well as the loss of their sustainable livelihoods.

“The Government in PNG is hell bent on defending a logging industry that operates largely outside the law,” says Mr. Mondiai. “This is cheating the people and will lead to massive problems in the future”.

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Already in PNG there have been mudslides reported in heavily logged Provinces such as East and West New Britain, Morobe and Gulf. Although, thankfully, PNG has so far managed to avoid a major catastrophe, all the signs are that we will face a major disaster soon if policies do not change.

The Eco-Forestry Forum says that there are sustainable options in forest management that can provide far greater benefits for local people and the national economy through value adding and down stream processing. But the Government is persisting in selling off the forests at the lowest possible price with no regard for the environmental impacts.

PNG Eco-Forestry Forum

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