Social impact of PNG logging

Issue 

Social impact of PNG logging

A less well-known impact of large scale logging in Papua New Guinea is the social impact. PETRONILA PAKE from the West New Britain Provincial Council of Women and PANGO, the Provincial Alliance of Non-Government Organisations, toured Australia as part of the "Big Bush Bugarup" series of public meetings. She is worried about the social and environmental impact of logging she sees on her travels. She describes the situation in her province in this interview with CAROLYN COURT.

PAKE: I came from the area where most of our forests have been destroyed already by logging. Most of the damage is environmental, like unnecessary felling of trees by the use of graders, drying out of streams, loss of life in forests — including our medical trees — disappearance of wildlife.

What does that do to the people and their health?

These problems affect the people in the villages and the women. Clear-felling pollutes the drinking water and causes the breeding of mosquitoes [creating a malaria problem]. Sometimes you also itch from the oil and the diesel spillage at the head of the river, which people also use as drinking water.

How do logging camps affect village society?

When the logging company comes in, the village people create a small land owners' company. When men make money, social problems arise. When social problems arise, it affects the women in the province. Like marriage break-up, fatherless children, violence against women, rape. Women are not participating in any decision making about the forest or land owner company.

How does a logging company coming in make people fight with each other?

Well, because the men, when they make money, travel out to different areas in Papua New Guinea or overseas and forget about their own families. They can go and buy alcohol, and when they get drunk, they go back and bash up their wives.

I work in two different organisations and they both deal with environmental issues. We are bringing more awareness on environment and conservation [and oppose] injustice, bribery and dishonesty and corruption within the province.
[This interview was first broadcast on Radio Australia's One World program, produced by Carolyn Court.]

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