Activists issues warning about PNG forests

An environmental and social activist says the governments of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia cannot claim to be serious about climate change impacts when they continue to allow rampant forest clearance across New Guinea.

Source: Radio New Zealand

An environmental and social activist says the destruction wrought upon New Guinea's forests by the logging industry typifies the way so-called development works in PNG.

Dorothy Tekwie says PNG's government, as with the leaders of Indonesia's neighbouring territory, cannot claim to be serious about climate change impacts when they continue to allow rampant forest clearance.

The West Sepik-based activist says in her region, Asian logging companies have become so powerful they are starting to dominate many local sectors other than logging.

She told Johnny Blades that it's happening throughout PNG.


DOROTHY TEKWIE: The government has never really taken control of this, government has not taken the responsibility to control this industry. If it is generating revenue for this country we would like to know where it is gone? Why it hasn't benefited people in here? Our people here who are losing trees in the forest over there the women still only wear one set of clothes for the whole year. There is no soap, no salt, no saucepan, nothing. And we still live like that, and they say we are benefiting from logging. What development are they talking about? Logging, what development is it bringing? Where are the royalty money? They are using the royalty money for logging.

JOHNNY BLADES: It just sounds like quote "development" has been so harmful to the melanesian way of life in PNG?

DT: I think the type of development, I am not sure if it is the democratic system I am not sure if it is the political or economic system we have adopted but something has definitely gone wrong in the way that we have accepted development or we have seen, or our definition of what development is. Yes it is sad that this country has really been destroyed by the type of development that we have adopted. I am not sure, maybe also the sort of bad practices that we picked up from associating with the early developers, the early investors in this country, the first lot of investors that came in mainly from Asia and all they see is money. If they can't see money they, they go.

JB: So you are really concerned aren't you about the management of this whole island's resources?

DT: Well the island of New Guinea is the third largest tropical rainforest on earth. The first is the Amazon and then the Congo and this is the third largest. Well it is going very, very fast under logging. And here you know the world is talking about climate change, they really are not doing anything about saving the forest on this island.

JB: Both sides?

DT: Both sides of this island, you know I talk about this island because this is New Guinea the island of New Guinea. I see it as just one Island. You know it is not Papua New Guinea and Indonesia or West Papua no. This is one island it is supposed to be one island and meant to be one people anyway. So the situation here is if we don't do anything about taking joint action on both sides we are going to lose this biodiversity we are going to lose this because the logging is going faster than we government or the government can take action  or take responsibility for.