Forest Clearing Authorities are being unlawfully used to facilitate large-scale logging operations by foreign-owned logging companies according to a new report published today by ACT NOW!, in collaboration with Jubilee Australia Research Centre.
The new report, which focuses on the Wammy logging operation in West Sepik Province, reveals how a Malaysian logging company has used a Forest Clearing Authority (FCA), intended to allow land clearing for agriculture or other land use projects, as a front to export hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of round logs.
In the ten years of the project’s operation (2013-22), Malaysian-owned Global Elite Limited has sold US$31 million (115 million kina) worth of round logs, but has not established the promised palm oil or rubber plantations.
To make matters worse, in 2013, the Commission of Inquiry into the SABL scheme found evidence the proposed Wammy logging operation did not have informed consent from a significant proportion of customary landowners, and documented objections from several landowner groups. On top of this there was compelling evidence of non-compliance with key processes required to be undertaken before an SABL or FCA can be granted.
Analysis of satellite images conducted by ACT NOW! has found evidence of extensive selective logging in the concession, with minimal land clearing. FCAs are only intended to authorise land clearing for agriculture, not selective logging.
Last month, we heard Prime Minister Marape reaffirm his commitment to preserve our rainforests and prevent deforestation during President Emmanuel Macron’s visit. Despite this, we see the Forestry Act being abused year upon year, with phoney agriculture projects used as a front for illegal logging.
ACT NOW! and Jubilee Australia are calling on the PNG Forest Authority to cancel the Forest Clearing Authority granted to Global Elite Limited.
The Wammy Project is just one of 24 active logging concessions across nine Provinces where logging is authorised under FCA. Together, these actively exporting FCAs cover an average area of 61,849 hectares, the equivalent of more than 11,000 football fields.
FCAs are routinely being used as a loophole to authorise the theft of PNG’s forests. We call on the National Forest Board and PNG Forest Authority to extend the current moratorium on new FCAs, suspend logging in all existing FCAs and conduct a comprehensive public review of the projects.
Copy of the report Ten Years Without a Crop : The Wammy Rural Development Project can be downloaded using the link here-