Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit: PNG calls for illegal logging assistance

by Allanah Leahy – EM TV Online

The Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit, hosted in Sydney, Australia, kicked off on Tuesday with an aim to assess international perspectives and plans of action regarding rainforest sustainability.  

Key leaders and senior officials gathered from forest nations and donor countries to hone in on practical solutions in reducing forest loss and development. Papua New Guinea and Vietnam have asked Australia’s Environment Minister, Greg Hunt for direct assistance in combating the issue, as reported by The Australian.

Minister Hunt had previously launched an online-based approach to help Asia-Pacific countries design forestry monitoring systems, as well as funding towards the eradication of illegal logging.

Papua New Guinea and Vietnam have sought more help, which The Australian speculates may result in Australian forestry management experts working in both countries. Australia could also offer assistance with satellite imaging and methods to ensure logging is sourced from certified forests.

Papua New Guinea’s Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs), introduced in June 2011 by Acting Prime Minister Sam Abau is a notable example of land grabbing and misuse of public funds, highlighting the serious work to be done in PNG’s forestry and resource sector, internally and externally.

Oxfam has spoken out on the misuse of SABLs, namely the banks that continue to facilitate the illegal activity.

“From PNG and Cambodia to Indonesia and Brazil, our banks have backed companies accused of forcing people from their land,” Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said in a statement this year.

As of 2012, Greenpeace reported that over 60 per cent of PNG’s intact forests have been destroyed by logging and industrial agriculture with losses still being experienced today, while The World Bank estimated that 70 per cent of logging in PNG is illegal. 

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