Questions in PNG on need for more oil palm

Source: Radio New Zealand International

An organisation which promotes sustainable forestry, FORCERT, has sounded a note of caution about oil palm developments in Papua New Guinea.

This comes as the national government recently approved of the US$ 2 billion Sepik Plain Oil Palm Development Project, covering 10,000 hectares of land in East Sepik province.

FORCERT's Peter Dam says the legacy of oil palm development in PNG has not been good for local communities.

He says the land where oil palm developments are typically sited have thin soil and the crop requires huge amounts of fertilisers to maintain.

"It's mainly now used for the companies to get access to the forest, to the logs. They are planting there, they are saying that they want to build mills so maybe they want to try to get some income from the oil palm as well but on the environmental and social side, it's disastrous for the local communities. So the only ones that will be benefitting from this will be the companies and in no way will it be sustainable."