The inside view: Kanawi Pouru, Managing Director, PNG Forest Authority


The forestry industry in Papua New Guinea has bounced back since the global financial crisis. Our two biggest markets remain Australia for sawn and processed products and China for round logs.

Australia will shortly introduce new regulations for importing timber products based on legality and chain of custody. We’re keen to understand those new standards and specifications so PNG operators can meet them and it doesn’t affect trade between the two countries. It’s also an issue with China. While they consume much of the wood from PNG domestically, some of it is used in manufactured products for Europe and the United States, where there are requirements for due diligence and proof of origin.

We consider carbon trading as an opportunity, although the climate change agenda seems to be very fluid and keeps changing. The mechanics of how it will operate have not yet been worked out but the idea seems to have been embedded well.

In line with the policy on downstream processing that the National Government instituted last year, we’re reviewing what support the Authority can offer. Through that process we will be able to put in a firm time schedule that enables the industry and investors to start making those adjustments without hitting their income and profits really hard.

Plantations are also part of this policy. For new plantations, if we can help to secure the required land for planting then we will be able to see growth.

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The government has made it clear that institutions like the Timber Industry Training College in Lae need to also recognise the government’s policy shift and train people in all phases of processing, wood shedding, treatment operators and so on. All this training is being done but may need to increase in capacity to cope with the needs of the industry.

There is a lot of job creation now, and perhaps it now opens up more opportunities for cottage industries that can process wood to specifications. A lot of Papua New Guineans own their own homes, but they need furniture. These are the opportunities.

This article first published in Business Advantage PNG 2011/2012

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