Forest Minister needs to back up words with action on SABL logging

Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa needs to ensure all logging in SABL areas is immediately stopped says community activist group, ACT NOW!

This follows assurances from the Minister that 74 Special Agriculture and Business Lease that were illegally obtained have been revoked and customary landowners would retain their land.

"The Minister is claiming the leases have been revoked, but logging still continues in many of the areas", says Eddie Paine, Campaign Coordinator for ACT NOW! "The Minister needs to ensure the logging is immediately stopped as it is illegal." 

The Ministers statements, as reported in the National newspaper, owned by Malaysian logging company Rimbunan Hijau, were contradicted by Lands Secretary Romilly Kila-Pat who says only 27 SABLs have been revoked.

Kila-Pat was himself identified in the SABL Commission of Inquiry as having facilitated the issuing of a number of unlawful SABLs and the Commission identified Rimbunan Hijau as a major player behind the whole land grab scandal.  

The Forest Minister has also reportedly requested the Australian Government and the European Union for direct assistance in reducing forest loss and illegal logging. The request is said to have been made at the Asia-Pacific Forest Summit in Sydney last week.

But ACT NOW! is questioning the Minister's motives and whether the request is really genuine.

"Why do we need Australia's assistance to stop illegal logging in SABL areas? The Forest Clearance Authorities were issued here in PNG by the National Forest Board and should be revoked", says Eddie Paine.

"Instead the NFB is actually issuing more clearing Authorities in direct defiance of the NEC decision and the Commission of Inquiry findings".

"The Minister needs to act to make his own Department comply with the law and the clear evidence the SABLs are illegal - rather than traveling overseas and making empty requests for assistance".