Don't Be Fooled - Understanding the Forest Language

To truly understand the forest sector in Papua New Guinea, one must carefully study the Forest Act and understand the language used, “forestry language”. 

Landowners who are planning to bring in a logging company or large-scale agriculture company to clear their forest must make it their business to learn the forestry language. 

This is to avoid the company and representatives of the PNG Forest Authority misleading the landowners into easily giving away their land in return for the false promises and benefits that will not be delivered as has been the case over the years.

Evidence throughout the years, has proven that the PNG Forest Authority should not be trusted to protect the interests of local people.

This is clearly illustrated in the recently Timber Legality Risk Assessment 2023 published by ACT NOW! 

The report highlights the substantial evidence showing the Forest Authority’s culpability in failing to follow the law and promoting the interests of foreign companies over local communities. 

Another recent publication by ACT NOW! - Ten Years Without A Crop – is a case study on the Wammy Rural Development Project. It provides further evidence of the Forest Authority’s failings.   

The case study shows how a foreign owned logging company was issued a Forest Clearing Authority (FCA) in 2013, allowing it to clear discrete areas of forest in West Sepik Province for agriculture planting. 

The FCA was issued despite the opposition of a large number of local clans. To make things worse, after ten years of logging and despite timber worth around US$31 million (K115 million) having been exported, no agriculture projects have been established 

The Forest Act clearly states that forest clearing cannot extend beyond the first 500 hectares until there is clear evidence of agriculture planting, yet the Forest Authority has allowed the logging company to harvest trees over more than 40,000 hectares. 

To avoid such illegal activities and to ensure local communities are not cheated, it is of great importance that forest owners understand the language used in the forestry and logging sector, especially the acronyms, which are often confusing. 

As a guide, ACT NOW! has put together a list of the common acronyms and terms and their definition, starting with the Forestry Act. 

Acronym / name 


FA: Forestry Act 1991

The Forestry Act 1991 is the law that governs and regulates the forestry sector in PNG. The Act has been amended several times since 1991.

PNGFA:  PNG Forest Authority 


The PNGFA is responsible for ensuring sustainable forest management and monitoring and enforcing compliance with the rules and regulations set out in the Forestry Act. It is also responsible for the allocation of timber harvesting rights to logging companies. 

TRP: Timber Rights Purchase 


The TRP was a form of agreement used in the colonial era (before Independance in 1975) between logging companies, the colonial administration and landowners to allow the harvesting of timber.

The TRP was repealed and replaced in the Forest Act 1991. 

FCA: Forest Clearance Authority 


An FCA is a permit allowing a logging company to clear a defined area of forest so the land can be used for agricultural or road construction. 

The granting of an FCA is governed by the Forest Act 1991.

LFA: Local Forest Area 


Another term from the colonial era. Prior to 1975, the declaration of an LFA by a government minister allowed the landowners to negotiate directly with a logging company to harvest timber from their forest. 

The LFA was repealed and replaced in the Forest Act 1991. 

FMA: Forest Management Agreement 


An FMA is the only type of agreement for selective logging allowed under the Forest Act 1991. 

Under an FMA, a timber permit is issued by the PNG Forest Authority to a logging company to allow the sustainable harvesting of timber. 

Logging Concession

Logging concession is a general term that refers to a forest area where the PNG Forest Authority has issued a permit or license to a logging company to harvest timber. 

Currently there are three types of large-scale concession, the Timber Rights Purchase (TRP), Local Forest Area (LFA) and Forest Management Agreement (FMA). 

LFAs and TRPs are colonial era agreements outlawed under the Forest Act 1991. 


SGS is an international monitoring company engaged by the PNG government to monitor all log exports from PNG. 

Although an independent entity, SGS reports to the PNG Forest Authority as the government agency responsible for forest management in PNG.