The myth of large-scale logging and community development exposed

West Sepik is one of the most heavily logged Provinces in Papua New Guinea, but after decades of logging, local people are asking where has all the money gone and whatever happened to all the promised development?

Jamal S Kimes

Today some 72 ILG Chairmen from Amanab FMA Blocks 1-4 meet in a secluded Village Resort in Vanimo again to discuss important matters affecting them as a result of the logging operations in their area.

About a decade ago, the 72 ILGs entered into a Forest Management Agreement (FMA) with Vanimo Forest Products. To date, many or almost all of the promised benefits contained in the Agreement have not been met by the developer.

The 72 Chairmen have one and only one agenda on their list and that is to do a mass withdrawal from the current FMA. There are provisions in the forestry law besides precedence being set by our courts that can be used to help the landowners achieve their goal.

VFP has been operating in the Vanimo Green District for over forty (40) years. Looking into the current state of infrastructure development, business and social landscape within the district, just where have all the monies gone to as far as those logging agreements are concerned?

Landowners still use dump trucks as their mode of transport into town from their villages.

No indication of tangible investment opportunities for landowners in Vanimo Town or elsewhere.

No indication of sustainable livelihood projects.

The provincial and district governments must also take responsibility in the current plight of the resource owners. As governments at respective levels, they could have created workable policies and guidelines that could aid landowners invest properly their share of the benefits. By now, these landowners should be living improved lifestyles and have investments worth millions of dollars. Their children should be given the best education. They should have access to the best health care and so forth.

Where are we now as a government and people? Are we going to continue to stand and watch Malaysian loggers continue to rip us apart?