Papua New Guinea’s log export volumes are too high and the Forest Authority is failing to comply with the government’s reduction targets. This is according to the analysis of official data published.
Prime Minister James Marape, has repeatedly stated his government’s aim of ending all round log exports by 2025 and called on the forest industry to focus instead on downstream processing and value-adding. As well as delivering greater export revenues and increasing employment, the switch will also help PNG to fulfil its international commitments to reduce deforestation and conserve forests.
In support of the government’s policy, the MTDP IV, published in May, sets out a series of annual limits for log exports, starting from 1,695,000 cubic metres in 2024 and reducing each year to a maximum of 200,000 cubic metres in 2027.
Yet, according to the analysis of official log export data by ACT NOW!, the PNG Forest Authority is failing to ensure export volumes meet these targets.
The volume of logs exported in the first six months of 2023 was over 1.1 million cubic metres. This is equivalent to 66% of the maximum allowed for the whole of 2023. Unless the PNG Forest Authority takes immediate steps to reduce log export volumes then the government’s limit will be exceeded by more than 500,000 cubic metres by the end of 2023.
One-third of log exports are still coming for logging projects authorised under a Forest Clearance Authority, despite the National Forest Board having imposed a moratorium on new FCA projects in December last year.
Under the Forest Act, FCAs are only supposed to be issued to allow the clearing of small discrete areas of forest for agriculture planting or other land use change.
However, the FCAs are being fraudulently used to allow exporting of large volumes of logs over long periods of time from areas not intended for agriculture.
Last week ACT NOW! published a report into the Wammy Rural Development Project where logging under an FCA has been ongoing for eight years but the promised agriculture planting has never eventuated.
Immediate stopping of log exports from fraudulent FCA projects would go a long way to bringing the export volume within government limits.
The PNGFA should immediately suspend all logging and log exports from FCA areas. There should then be a public review conducted to establish whether any of the projects are genuine. This will help address the problem of widespread illegal logging and reduce the volume of log exports to within government targets.