PNG to gut forest law
By Glen Barry
The PNG timber industry and its political allies have tried repeatedly to undermine forest legislation passed in 1991. Now the new minister of forests, Andrew L. Posai, has proposed that the government significantly amend the act to re-centralise power in the forest minister's hands.
Under the proposed amendments, the minister would have "all powers to do all things that are necessary or convenient" in relation to the granting, suspending, amending and transferring of timber permits.
Under the 1991 Forestry Act, these powers reside in the National Forest Board. The act was written in response to the rampant corruption uncovered in the 1989 Barnett Inquiry into the PNG timber industry.
The proposed amendments coincide with a significant increase in timber concessions. Campaigners are calling on the international conservation movement to condemn the proposed undermining of the Forestry Act, which at least puts resource decisions in the hands of a group. The forests of PNG seem poised to be liquidated within a decade.
[From Ecological Enterprises, USA.]