The PNG Forest Authority will not take responsibility and stop logging in Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) areas despite overwhelming evidence the logging is unlawful, says community activist group ACT NOW!
"We have met with the Managing Director, Kanawi Pouru, and senior managers and made a detailed submission but they seem more interested in protecting the interests of the foreign logging companies than defending the rights of local people", says Program Manager, Effrey Dademo.
The Forest Authority issues Forest Clearance Authorities (FCA) to companies who have an SABL to allow them to clear an area of forest and establish an agriculture plantation. While the Forest Authority can't give an accurate figure for the number of FCAs it has issued ACT NOW! calculates the number to be 25.
At the time the FCAs were issued the Forest Authority thought the leases were valid, However, there is now substantial evidence the SABLs are invalid and void as they have not been issued in accordance with the Land Act and do not have the informed consent of local people.
"If the leases are invalid then the FCAs should not have been granted and are, under the terms of the Forestry Act, unlawful" says ACT NOW!
"…We have taken the MD and his staff through all the evidence from court cases and the Commission of Inquiry. But they say they are waiting for the Department of Lands to take action and cancel the leases before they can cancel the FCAs. This is just passing the buck as the logging is being done under the Forestry Act, a statute which the Authority has the sole responsibility for administering".
“We are also calling on the Department of Lands to fast track the process of cancelling SABLs found to have been unlawfully issued.”
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