By Eddie Tanago, ACT NOW!
The Prime Minister must extend the government's ban on new logging permits to cover all types of logging consent in order for it to be effective.
The PM last week directed the PNG Forest Authority to stop issuing new permits and permit extensions so the government can meet its deadline of 2025 for an end to the export of unprocessed raw logs.
It is a move that ACT NOW has been supporting for several years, but we are cautioning the ban must include all forms of logging consent, and not just timber permits.
If the government is serious about bringing an end to unprocessed log exports then the PNGFA must stop issuing new Forest Clearance Authorities and Timber Licences and not just timber permits.
In 2020, more than a quarter of all exported logs were harvested under authorities and licences. This percentage could quickly rise if the logging industry is only prevented from accessing new permits or permit extensions.
The PNGFA is has a reputation as a rogue agency that has repeatedly found a way around any hurdles put in the way of the logging industry.
This includes ignoring previous deadlines set for an end to log exports and exploiting SABLs to avoid sustainable harvesting targets.
While ACT NOW supports the Prime Minister’s call for an end to round log exports by 2025, any ban on new logging consents and extensions must be comprehensive and will require very close policing to ensure it is implemented.
In 2020, ACT NOW, with partners Oakland Institute and Jubilee Australia, published a major report that highlighted the export of unprocessed natural resources as one of reasons why Papua New Guinea’s reliance on large-scale extraction has failed to deliver on promised development outcomes.
Titled, From Extraction to Inclusion, the report urged the government to refocus the economy around small-scale agricultural production and greater downstream processing to improve development outcomes.
As the PM has said, the forestry sector has the potential to make a big contribution to the economy but for far too long successive governments have paid lip service to idea of banning raw log exports and moving instead to downstream processing.
As a nation we have been missing out on jobs, on investment in manufacturing, and value-adding because for decades the authorities have been acting in league with the foreign owned logging industry to pillage our forests.
The ban on new forest consents and extensions must be comprehensive and must be implemented without any exceptions.