Forest Minister sadly misinformed or willfully misleading us?
Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa has taken to social media to try and defend the government’s record on forest management and combatting illegal logging.
But, in trying to defend the government and his record as Minister, Tomuriesa has again demonstrated his apparent lack of understanding of the issues.
Writing on FaceBook over the weekend, the Minister says he agrees with the statement “there was no reviews or audits been done [of the logging industry] in the last 10 to 15 years”
BUT THAT STATEMENT IS NOT TRUE!
There have been plenty of reviews and audits over the past 10-15 years. Such as the 2014 SGS report that shows one-third of log exports come from SABL areas – logging operations both the Prime Minister and Chief Secretary have declared “a scam” and which are clearly illegal.
The 2007 International Tropical Timber Organiisation Diagnostic Mission report said PNG government agencies are failing to properly apply and enforce the law, failing to ensure even basic standards of legality and completely failing ‘to achieve any semblance of sustainability in its forest management’.
The 2004 Forestry and Conservation project reviews of current logging operations and review of disputed permits uncovered widespread illegality. These were the findings of Wold Bank consultants working inside the PNG Forest Authority. The findings were expertly summarized by Forest Trends in 2009.
A 2014 Chatham House report again found at least 70% of logging in PNG is illegal.
So there have been plenty of reviews and audits – maybe the Minister should read them!
The Minister also said “we have SGS… who checks all operations before logs are shipped out”
SGS only inspects each log shipment to check the count of the logs is correct and confirm the species. SGS does not monitor logging operations or check legal compliance!
The Minister claimed logging operations are monitored to “see who is operating inside or outside of their boundary”
Sounds very impressive – but what about all the illegal logging inside concession boundaries? And why has there been no action against the Malaysian logging company exposed by Global Witness in October to have extensive logging operations outside their SABL boundary – as shown in these images:
The Minister said he has ‘closed more companies in the short time in that office than any Minister’
He said the number of logging companies operating in PNG has fallen from 128 to 67
But even if that is true, SO WHAT? Log exports are at an all time high and log exports from illegal SABL areas doubled since the Commission of Inquiry was established in 2011. So where is the impact?
Is the Minister just sadly misinformed or is he willfully trying to deceive us?
He did at least made an offer for critics, led by Brian Brunton, to visit his office for a proper briefing:
Lets hope that offer is genuine and the critics will take him up on it!