Rimbunan Hijau in the Forests of Papua New Guinea
How has Rimbunan Hijau, one of the world’s largest logging companies, been able to avoid responsibility for its unlawful and unsustainable logging, land grabbing and human rights abuses in Papua New Guinea?
How has the company, despite its appalling record, been able to extend its operations into multiple sectors of the local economy?
‘RH’ may be “popularly synonymous with the problems of the logging sector, corruption and anti-Chinese sentiments” in PNG but that has not inhibited its growth.
Media manipulation, slick public relations, political patronage, legislative amendments, abuse of existing laws, exploitation of weak regulations and government agencies and the aggressive use of the courts to threaten and intimidate, have all played an important role.
This is all laid out in a 2015 report, RH in the forests of PNG (500kb), by Jennifer Gabriel and Mike Wood from James Cook University.
Adding to the existing literature on the history of forestry policy and reform in Papua New Guinea, this paper focuses on the Malaysian Rimbunan Hijau Group (RH) – the largest actor in PNG’s forest industry. Rimbunan Hijau’s dominant presence since the 1980s has been accompanied by allegations of illegality, corruption and human rights abuses. This paper outlines RH’s initial involvement in PNG’s forestry sector and discusses some of the more controversial aspects of its engagement with concession acquisition processes and public policy, as well as its responses