Help West Papua with forest fund

Press Release

The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

29 March 2007

Help West Papua with forest fund.

Joe Collins of the Australia West Papua Association said if the Prime Minister is serious about forming a global fund to fight illegal logging and forest destruction in the region, he should start by refusing to support the Indonesian military in any form .

A recent report by two conservation groups: the Environmental Investigation Agency and Telapak, revealed that the TNI are involved in illegal logging in West Papua.

The report , “The Last Frontier - Illegal Logging in Papua"
reveals that the military in Papua are involved in every aspect of illegal logging. It reported that military personnel are frequently employed as security for logging operations and that the army is also used to intimidate local communities opposed to logging operations on their lands. They are favoured in logging concessions.

Yet the Australian Government has signed a treaty with Indonesia which commits us to ties with this same Indonesian military.

The best way to protect the forests of West Papua is to call on the Indonesian government to halt the military's illegal activities in such resource extraction.

Joe Collins said "until a genuine effort is made by the Indonesian Government to reform its military , the treaty between Australia and Indonesian should not be ratified".

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1 comment:

Ana said...

PNG may become test case for plan
Greg Roberts

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to bulldoze a million hectares of virgin rainforest in Papua New Guinea is emerging as a test case for the Howard Government's $200million initiative to fight illegal logging.

Logging is expected to begin soon in Kamula Dosa, an extension of the Wawoi Guavi forestry concession held by Malaysian company Rimbunan Hijau.

The Papua New Guinea Ombudsman Commission has deemed the extension to be illegal because, although it was approved by Port Moresby, it had been allowed to bypass the forestry approval process.

Papua New Guinea lawyer and prominent anti-logging campaigner Annie Kajir said yesterday that Canberra's initiative was welcome.

"This is a very positive development and an important step for the region," she said.

Ms Kajir said she hoped that, as part of the initiative, John Howard would urge his Papua New Guinea counterpart, Michael Somare, to stop logging in Kamula Dosa.

Rimbunan Hijau declined to comment yesterday.

Ms Kajir said another nine Papua New Guinea logging concessions covering four million hectares of rainforest - held mainly by Malaysian interests - were at various stages of approval.

"Papua New Guinea has lost 65 per cent of its forests and the rest is going fast," she said.

The World Bank estimates that 70 per cent of logging in Papua New Guinea is illegal.

The forestry industries of Papua New Guinea and neighbouring Solomon Islands have long been dogged by evidence of corruption, illegal practices and human rights abuses.

The Papua New Guinea Government loses an estimated $100million in revenue a year through log-export scams.

Federal Forestry Minister Eric Abetz said Canberra would consider how money from the new fund could address issues raised in the debate over Kamula Dosa and other Papua New Guinea forestry concessions.

Senator Abetz said that, in an important breakthrough supported by Australia, the Papua New Guinea Forest Industries Association had agreed to adopt a system that independently verified the legality of logged timber.

Under the system, Papua New Guinea timber producers will be required to provide evidence of the origin of logs and of logging permits.

Swiss certification company SGS will audit the authenticity of documents.

"This will provide the necessary assurances to markets that timber exports from Papua New Guinea are legally sourced," Senator Abetz said.

He said Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands were the main targets of Australia's campaign against illegal logging.
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