Map showing location of log exporting TRP projects 2019-21
More than thirty large-scale logging projects appear to be operating in defiance of a Court ban issued by the Deputy Chief Justice in June 2021. Together the logging operations accounted for 40% of Papua New Guinea’s total log exports in the twelve months from July 2021.
The Court order calls for ‘an immediate ban’ on any logging in Timber Rights Purchase areas until the Forest Authority, and a number of other government agencies provide the court with a series of detailed reports on all logging operations in the country.
The Court Order was issued by the DCJ Kandakasi, PNG’s second highest ranking judge. He is adjudicating in a legal case brought by landowners from Umboi island in Morobe Province, challenging the legality of logging on their customary land.
The Court Order requires the PNGFA to provide a report on all logging and forest clearance operations with a detailed account of the area logged, the number of trees felled, the environmental and social impacts, the remedial action taken on environmental damage and its effectiveness and the tangible development improvements delivered for local communities.
Image shows part of the Court Order
The Conservation and Environment Protection Authority is also required to provide a detailed report on all Environmental Permits issued for ‘each and every’ logging operation in the country and their conditions, the monitoring evaluations and compliance reviews carried out, the steps taken to mitigate adverse environmental impacts, the breaches identified and remedial steps taken, and any prosecutions undertaken.
Similarly, the Climate Change Development Authority is required to provide a detailed report on the climate change impacts of logging and deforestation activities in both logging and mining areas, the environmental plans and permits, any monitoring evaluations or compliance reviews carried out, the steps taken to mitigate adverse environmental impacts, the breaches identified and remedial steps taken, and any prosecutions undertaken.
More than twenty month’s later, according to sources in the National Court, the Forest Authority and other agencies have yet to produce their reports and therefore the ban on logging in TRP areas is still in effect.
Yet, despite the ban, ACT NOW has identified thirty-one logging operations in twenty-nine TRP areas that have exported logs since the ban was imposed.
TABLE: Log exports from TRP areas, July 2021 - June 2022.
In the first twelve-months after the ban, PNGFA records show 1,179,588 cubic metres of logs, valued at US$120 million were exported from the TRP areas by twenty-six foreign owned logging companies.
As well as the apparent breach of the court order, the log exports illustrate the lack of commitment from the PNGFA to effecting the government's policy to wind down log exports so they stop completely by 2025.
A copy of the full Court Order can be downloaded below.