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Illegal Logging Site Shut-Down, Asians Jailed

March 16, 2018 3 comments

BY NELLIE SETEPANO, Post Courier

AN illegal logging company operating in Northern Province was shut down and 13 Asians without work permits were locked up at the Popondetta cells.

Northern Province Police have confirmed the shutdown of the illegal logging company known as Northern Forest Products at Collingwood Bay, Wanigela with thousands of logs and heavy equipment impounded. All logs and equipment will be moved to Oro Bay.

Provincial Police Commander Chief Inspector Lincoln Gerari said police had acted on advise from National Forest Authority to move onto the site and shut it down after its illegal operations on 45,000 hectares state land that consists of portions 135, 136 and 137.

“We moved in last Friday and caught them off guard, the Asians were cooking pumpkins, and then fled into the bushes and our men went after them,” Gerari said.

When caught, the men complained that they were never fed properly and or paid by the site manager since arriving last September.

Police said the loggers arrived with no legal entry permits and are now arrested and charged under the Employment of Non-Citizens acts 2007. Aged between 28 to 50 years; 12 of the men are from Malaysia and one from Indonesia. This section provides for prohibition of employment without valid work permit. Separately, the site manager was charged for stealing logs on state.

According to police, the provincial government had a keen eye on the operations of the company that had entered into a partnership with landowner group called Aiso [Assor] Development Corporation under the pretext of doing agricultural business and growing cash crops like cocoa.

Northern Governor Garry Juffa who has been aware of the illegal operations and had brought the issue to the attention of National Forest Authority and ensured the shut down happened. He also visited the site after the raid and confirmed the shutdown.

Mr Juffa talked to the villages and assured those involved will be prosecuted.

The governor has been vocal about illegal aliens operating in the province and vowed to remove them.

Juffa slams ‘another logging scam’

November 1, 2017 2 comments

Inspection of Ifane Agro Forestry Project

Update by Gary Juffa via FaceBook

As usual as has been the case with such dubious projects done without the approval of my Office and the Provincial Executive Committee.

This is the other Forestry scam besides SABL: FCA – FOREST CLEARING AUTHORITY.

Here public servants in provinces corroborate with PNGFA officials and dubious “landowners” to award permits via the PNGFA BOARD to log chunks of land of 500 hectares to logging pirates on the pretext of “tree growing” and “agricultural projects”.

Thing is.. these are the same plunderers who pay no taxes and have planted no trees or a single agricultural species of plant or animal life for the last 20 – 30 years…

My inspection in reaction to landowner petitions revealed massive breaches of various laws including environmental, trespassing, labour, transport, migration and others.

I took Administration officials who confessed giving approvals without bringing to my attention first. The officials were showed the various areas of concern that the company blatantly logged in breach of various laws and instructed to act immediately and impose penalties.

Interviewed some of the landowners who all admitted they are “partners”.. but have not been paid.. despite truckloads of high value logs leaving their land.

Meanwhile a dispute remains as to who are actual landowners.

Instructed PNGFA and Administration to immediately furnish documents for the so called project, instruct company to cease operations until they pay fines for all breaches and we have investigated their legality of operations, inform all clans to congregate end of November to deliberate on damages and trespassing and compile case to sue for damages.

See also – Yet another unlawful attempt to log Collingwood Bay

Yet another unlawful attempt to log Collingwood Bay

October 28, 2017 1 comment

Collingwood Bay. Photo Eric Wakker

Industry observer: “This is a complete nonsense… a cocoa project simply doesn’t need a massive hectarage, involving massive forestry clearance and equipment… It’s clearly another completely fraudulent exercise, made easier by the lack of penalties imposed upon the existing SABL perpetrators”

By Lester Seri

The National Forest Authority has granted permission for logging in the Collingwood Bay area of Northern Province despite the strong opposition of local people.

This is the third attempt at large-scale commercial logging in the area, the two previous attempts having been successfully defeated through the courts.

It is understood Northern Forest Products Ltd and Aisor Development Corporation have been issued a Forest Clearance Authority (FCA) to log Portions 136, 137 and up to Baruga lands  and to the Musa river.

According to the maps seen, its seems the entire Collingwood Bay area is to be consumed by logging under the pretext of planting cocoa.

Local people have been given no information about the proposed logging and have not seen a copy of the FCA proposal, or any approval granted by the National Forest Board or the Forest Minister.

Requests to the Forest Authority for these documents have gone unanswered and local people are totally in the dark as to how the authorities could give approval without even consulting local people and without ensuring their consent.

Meanwhile a company (allegedly involving a Malaysian and some Wanigela landowners) has been landing logging equipment at  Wanigela since April this year. The equipment is being stored at Naukwat village, a home to one of the people known to have been directly involved in the illegal Collingwood Bay SABL that was declared illegal by the National Court in June 2014.

Collingwood Bay landowners are at a loss to understand the continuing defiance by the National Forest Authority to grant licences for logging concessions in their area despite court rulings after court ruling in favour of the landowners that span nearly 30 years.

There are rumours that the Provincial Government and the Administration are in support of a cocoa project in Collingwood Bay, and it is alleged that the new FCA and movement of logging machineries have their approval?

Questions asked are:

  1. Why have the landowners not been officially made aware of this government sanctioned cocoa project?
  2. Why does the cocoa planting require bulldozers, jinkers and graders, when the landowners need only knives, spades and axes to plant cocoa.

The Baruga landowners have already put up tabu markings stopping anybody moving into their private land.

The National Forest Authority has miserably failed many landowning communities’ in Papua New Guinea over the years and continues to do so in Collingwood Bay through the illegal SABL and now this suspect FCA.

The Collingwood Bay people have held community consultation forums since 2014 and have unanimously agreed to pursuing their own Community Conservation Initiative. This received final community approval in April 2017, and funding support has been secured.

It seems the National Forest Authority is intent on deliberately truncating / DESTROYING the Communities’ Conservation Initiative over 650,000 hectares of land by encouraging logging without the consent of the local people.

I AM OF THE STRONG VIEW THAT IT IS TIME FOR THE ENTIRE COLLINGWOOD BAY COMMUNITIES’ TO CONVERGE AT WANIGELA AND DEMAND AN EXPLANATION FROM THOSE CONCERNED, THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT AND THE ADMINISTRATION, AND THE RESPECTIVE FORESTRY OFFICES IN PORT MORESBY AND POPONDETTA.

KLK pulls out of oil palm in Collingwood Bay but logging fears remain

November 30, 2016 Leave a comment

klk

Source: Gabriel Thoumi – ValueWalk

In December 2012, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK) bought 51% of the equity in Collingwood Plantations Pte (CWB) via KLK Overseas Investments Limited for $8.7 million. At the time, according to AmInvesment Bank, the assumed production costs from clearing to palm oil production for the new plantation were $6,000 per ha.

In KLK’s 2013 Annual Report, the company estimated that it would develop 30,000 ha of oil palm in Collingwood Bay. The area is known for its pristine primary forests and coral reefs, containing high levels of biodiversity. Prior to KLK’s entry, the Collingwood Bay Indigenous communities had secured a court order that prohibited all natural resource related national government agencies from entering the bay without the landowners’ prior consent.

Collingwood Bay’s Indigenous communities successfully contested KLK’s plantation plans in the Papua New Guinea courts, which declared KLK’s two main leases null and void in May 2014.

In October, KLK confirmed that it has withdrawn all interest in the development of two portions of customary land (Portion 113C and 143C) in Collingwood Bay. A smaller third State Land portion – Lot 5 which is 5,992 ha – is still being reviewed, according to KLK. Without access to the other lots, however, it is uncertain if the size of Lot 5 is economically feasible to develop on its own because it also mostly covered with primary and High Carbon Stock forest.

In a statement KLK publicly committed to sell off by December 2016 its land clearing equipment stored in Wanigela, Collingwood Bay and confirmed that KLK and / or its agents will exclude the cultivation of palm oil as a development option on Lot 5.  Concerns remain, however, if the land-clearing machinery is sold to KLK Overseas Investments Limited joint venture partner ANG Agro Forest Management to facilitate logging and other activities in the primary forests of Lot 5.

KLK has not clarified its overall plans for its overall $8.7 million investment Collingwood Plantations Pte, its total land bank of 44,342 ha in the region or its 37,000 ha plantation deal in Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea. According to agronomists and a 1992 government soil survey, the Sepik Province plantation deal is on land that has been found to be unsuitable for tree crops.

Stay out of Papua New Guinea, KL Kepong told

November 2, 2014 Leave a comment

FMT Reporters

SAM and FOTO organise a protest on behalf of Collingwood Bay folk who do not want their customary land developed for oil palm.

SAM and FOTO organise a protest on behalf of Collingwood Bay folk who do not want their customary land taken for oil palm

Sahabat Alam Malaysia and Friends of the Orangutans held a protest outside the Kuala Lumpur Kepong head office in Ipoh demanding that KLK withdraw from Lot 5 in Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea and cease all its oil palm activities there.

The protest was made on behalf of the people of Collingwood Bay who claim that despite a court order cancelling the leases of KLK, the company continued to operate in the area with the intention to develop Lot 5.

Despite KLK claiming that Lot 5 was state land, landowner Lester Seri totally disagreed saying, “Lot 5 is within Maisin customary lands and holds primary forest and small patches of ‘kunai grass’ that the communities annually use for game hunting.”

Seri also said 80% of Lot 5 was primary forest and High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest.

Saying that communities in Collingwood Bay depended on the land as a source of income, Seri added, “there is no change, the Collingwood communities do not want oil palm and KLK in Collingwood Bay.”

KLK Bhd is among the largest plantation companies in Malaysia with approximately 250,000 ha of land bank in Malaysia and Indonesia.

In December 2012, the company along with Batu Kawan Bhd collectively acquired 69% of shares in Collingwood Plantation Pte in Singapore from a Malaysian national living in Papua New Guinea.

However on May 20, 2014, a High Court there declared two large land development leases (Lots 113C and 143C) totalling 38,350 ha belonging to KLK Bhd as null and void.

The court also ordered the state to cancel the Special Agriculture and Business Leases owned by KLK after a civil lawsuit was brought against the company by customary landowners who objected to their land being developed into oil palm plantations.

However despite the court-ordered cancellation, KLK has refused to cease its activities.

Protesters take to the streets in Malaysia over Collingwood Bay land grab

October 31, 2014 Leave a comment

KLK collingwood bay protest KL 30102014

KLK collingwood protest KL 2 30102014 2

Tell KLK to leave Collingwood Bay now!

October 28, 2014 Leave a comment
Collingwood Bay

Collingwood Bay

By Lester Seri* 

Lester Seri is from Collingwood Bay and is one of many local residents fiercely resisting KLK’s attempted landgrab of the community’s forests.

My name is Lester Seri, and I am a Maisin landowner in Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea. I come from the Wofun Clan, belonging to the Wo Ari Kawo tribe, and I have been mandated by the Wo Ari Kawo Elders to speak on behalf of them on Tribal land matters.

I am writing to you today because the people of Collingwood Bay urgently need you to support our struggle. 

Local people encircling a huge rainforest treeMy people – the Maisin people – along with our neighboring communities in Collingwood Bay have been fighting to protect our customary lands from illegal land grabs for logging and palm oil development for nearly three decades. In 2002 we won a four year court battle against the government for illegally leasing our land for logging and palm oil projects without the consent of the customary landowners. Yet, in 2012 this SAME land area was leased again to suspect middlemen landowner companies and ultimately sold to Malaysian palm oil company Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK). When I and several other landowners heard that our lands had been leased without our consent again, we took our case to court once more.

In May of this year, the National Court of Papua New Guinea declared the two leases claimed by KLK illegal again and ordered them to be cancelled. While this court victory was important, KLK has not yet left Collingwood Bay and our struggle continues.

The people and the forests of Collingwood Bay need your support now more than ever. Please stand with us now and tell KLK to leave Collingwood Bay immediately!

KLK was forced to give up two leases on customary lands through the court case, but the company still claims a third lease in Collingwood Bay called Lot 5. In recent communications, KLK has stated that it has no intentions to leave Lot 5, despite the fact that it is within Maisin customary lands and holds primary forest and small patches of ‘kunai grass’ that our people use annually for game hunting.

As a member of the RSPO and through its own voluntary commitments, KLK has also pledged not to clear primary forests, High Conservation Value Forests, or High Carbon Stock forests, so there is absolutely no way KLK can develop palm oil on Lot 5. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason for them still to be here, yet they are.

Join me in telling KLK it’s time to pack its bags and leave Collingwood Bay for good.

Our people have been fighting companies like KLK for too long, and we are fed up with their attempts to undermine our local economies and culture and rob us of our rich natural resources. Our paramount chiefs have said no to these forms of development, and they have said no to palm oil development in Collingwood Bay.

The forests and cultures of the Collingwood Bay people are at stake if KLK proceeds. We urgently need your voice to send this message to KLK loud and clear: No palm oil development and no KLK in Collingwood Bay!

* Lester Seri is a Maisin landowner in Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea from the Wofun Clan, belonging to the Wo Ari Kawo tribe. He is a Coordinator for Oro Communities Environmental Advocacy Network (OCEAN) Inc., which campaigns against illegal land, logging and oil palm issues and was a Plaintiff in Collingwood Bay communities’ customary land court case. Lester is a graduate of the University of Papua New Guinea and served as a Public Servant with the Department of Environment and Conservation for 17 years. He then became the Executive Director of Conservation Melanesia Inc., an environmental NGO, and also served as a Board member on several organizations such as Melanesian Environment Foundation (MEF) Inc., Eco-Forestry Forum (EFF), Environmental Law Centre (ELC) Inc., Conservation Forum (CF) Inc.