Up to one-third of Papua New Guinea log exports may not be authorised by landowners, says INA


Just over one third of Papua New Guinea’s logging exports in 2012 came from Special Agricultural and Business Leases, the majority of which may not have received approval from customary landowners, according to analysis by Paul Barker, Director of the Institute of National Affairs.

Credit: Cloudy Bay Sustainable Forestry

Credit: Cloudy Bay Sustainable Forestry

Figures released by the Societé General de Surveillance (SGS), which carries out independent log export monitoring in Papua New Guinea, show that PNG exported 3.147 million cubic metres of logs in 2012, down from 3.525 million cubic metres the previous year.

Of total exports, 1.044 million cubic metres appeared to come from Forest Conversion Authorities (FCAs) or SABLs, claims Barker. The Institute is an industry-funded think-tank based in Port Moresby.

The Institute of National Affairs' Paul Barker

The Institute of National Affairs’ Paul Barker

FCAs are issued for agricultural projects in forest areas by the PNG Forest Authority on the recommendation of the Department of Agriculture. There is currently a moratorium on the issue of new SABLs, which are issued by the Department of Lands and Physical Planning, pending a Commission of Inquiry.

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‘So, there may be a moratorium on SABLs, but logging continues merrily, and by implication on a totally unsustainable basis, as this is purportedly for areas to be converted to agriculture or other purposes,’ Barker told Business Advantage PNG.

The total value of logging exports was US$306.1 million (K594 million).

On 24 May this year, PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill gave the Commission of Inquiry into SABLs a 30-day ultimatum to produce its long-awaited final report.