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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

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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.

The strange story of Sovereign Green Global Australia, Green Giant Venture Fund, Astra Resources and a REDD project in Milne Bay/Oro

September 18, 2014 Leave a comment

By Chris Lang, REDD Monitor

Sovereign Green Gold logoSovereign Green Global is, according to its website, running a REDD+ conservation project, “located primarily in the Milne bay province of Papua New Guinea”. The project covers “approximately 125,000 hectares of rainforest”. But details of the project are scant and the information that is available rings plenty alarm bells.

The REDD project in Milne Bay province is supposed to reduce emissions from deforestation by protecting the forests from logging and conversion for agriculture. It will do so, according to Sovereign Green Global, “by offering the farmers financial incentive and intact forests rather than income received from deforestation”.

Sovereign Green Global does not explain how this will prevent logging or palm oil companies from clearing the forests.

Clean Development Mechanism or REDD?

The project is listed on the CDM Bazaar, a website run by the UN Environment Programme as “a global ‘virtual information exchange place’” about the Clean Development Mechanism that is “open to all interested parties”.

At a first glance, the website looks like an official UN website listing CDM projects, but in fact any company can register and post its project details on the website.

On CDM Bazaar, the Milne Bay project is described as an “Avoided Un-Planned Deforestation project”, using an “an existing CDM methodology”. The project idea note lists seven methodologies, and states that “the project falls within the category AFOLU – REDD – Avoiding unplanned deforestation and degradation (AUDD)”. That is, of course, a Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) REDD activity, but it is not recognised under the CDM.

The project idea note states that the project is “located in PNG and contains 58,967 ha of rainforests”. That’s less than half the area claimed on Sovereign Green Global’s website.

The project idea note states that VER credits will be available from the project from January 2014. But a page on Facebook, titled “Carbon Trade Project”, includes a photograph of “the MOA and MOU with Sovereign Green Global Australia Ltd for the REDD Project in Mimbui land and East Collinwood Bay”. The photograph is dated February 2014:

screen shot of Facebook page

So much for free, prior and informed consent.

Sovereign Green Global

A company called Sovereign Green Global Ltd was registered in the UK in November 2012. The company address was 145-157 St John Street. For £49.99 per year, Companies Made Simple will register a company at this address. Sovereign Green Global shared this address with almost 40,000 other companies.

In January 2013, Tony Adams took over as director of the company, and remained in place until the company was dissolved in June 2014.

Tony Adams is also the Chairman and Founder of Sovereign Green Global Australia Pty. Ltd., the company with the Milne Bay REDD project on its website. The company’s website provides little information about the company, apart from explaining that,

Sovereign Green Global Australia is a global company with a network of individuals dedicated to Humanitarian and Environmental Issues.

Sovereign Green Global’s website was registered (anonymously) in January 2013.

Green Giant Venture Fund

The project idea note explains that the REDD project in PNG is being developed by Sovereign Green Global together with the Green Giant Venture Fund.

Other than an address in Brazil and an address in the USA, Green Giant Venture Fund’s website provides little information about the company.

There’s not much information available elsewhere, apart from a series of press releases of agreements with companies developing carbon projects. Such as this one, in which Green Giant Venture Fund is described as follows:

Green Giant Venture Fund has expertise and experience in Carbon Credit Project (CCP) Development and provides technical, political and legal support required for the project and client. The Fund will also advise as to the strategy and tactics for effecting a forward financing by framing a strategic partnership in the Carbon financial sector and by executing a Carbon Finance option (FSCCP) aimed at capitalizing the client’s current and future (CCP).

Green Giant Venture Fund has been hired by several companies to sell carbon credits.

Grant Galloway is the director of Green Giant Venture Fund. In 2011, Green Automotive Company hired Green Giant Venture Fund:

Green Automotive Company Corporation (OTC:GACR) announced today the engagement of Green Giant Venture Fund as part of the Company’s plans to sell forward it’s expected allocation of carbon credits generated by future sales of it’s zero emission, All-Electric vehicles through the developing “Cap and Trade” commodity market.

You can read more about this on seekingalpha.com, here and here. Galloway appears in the second of those links.

Today, there is no mention of either “carbon credits” or “Green Giant Venture Fund” on Green Automotive Company’s website.

Green Giant Venture Fund’s website includes this statement about carbon credits (emphasis added):

Buyers have five reasons to purchase carbon offsets. They purchase carbon offsets for compliance to regulated markets, pre-compliance to regulated markets, investing for a financial return, carbon neutral product offsetting, and public relations.

The bit about investing in carbon credits “for a financial return” sets off more alarm bells.

Green Giant Venture Fund’s website lists the PNG REDD project and states that,

PDD [Project Design Document] is currently under development and is 90% completed. Estimated at 48m VCU credits with possibility of moving to Gold Standard.

The Milne Bay project idea note includes the Gold Standard’s logo at top of each page, suggesting a little more than the “possibility of moving to Gold Standard”. I’ve written to the Gold Standard to check whether Sovereign Green Global obtained the necessary permission before using the Gold Standard trademark in this way.

Astra Resources

In March 2014, a UK-based mining company called Astra Resources PLC announced that it had signed an agreement with Sovereign Green Global, under which Sovereign Green Global would provide €20 million “equity capital injection” followed by €780 million in “equity capital, knowhow and assets”.

Sovereign Green Global’s Tony Adams said,

“As Chairman and Founder of Sovereign Green Global Australia I fully support Astra Resources and its endeavours to create a cleaner and more sustainable environment for future generations. Sovereign will invest substantially in developing this new technologies [sic] and will now make a further commitment of carbon credits to the ongoing process of the green energy solutions that Astra are developing.”

The Australian describes the deal as “particularly curious”, and notes “that there appears to be no evidence that [Soveriegn Green Global Australia] has the capacity for multi-million-dollar financing deals”.

By a strange coincidence, Astra Resources’ registered address is 145-157 St John Street, the same address as the UK version of Sovereign Green Global.

In 2013, a former director of Astra Resources told the Australian that a document that the company used to raise up to US$45 million from Australian retail investors contained “significant misleading and false statements”. The Australian reports that,

Among those statements was a claim that Astra Mining was looking to raise €1 billion ($1.42bn) via an initial public offering on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, of which $700m had already been committed by major Korean and US investors.

Which sounds strangely similar to the deal with Sovereign Green Global.

Astra Resources’ press release states that,

SGGA [Sovereign Green Global Australia] are currently in the process of completing projects in the following areas and they are PNG Milne Bay, Philippine Province of Negros, and Vanuatu. These three areas specifically relate to over 200 million REDD+ Credits. These credits are at the stage of certification and will be settled over the next few months. The credits will be warehoused with a major investment bank and a line of credit will be allotted to SGGA.

In May 2014, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) started legal action against Astra Resources PLC and its directors.

On 4 June 2014, Astra Resources was suspended from the European Share Trading Exchange GXG Markets. Here’s how GXG Markets explains the suspension:

The Company is currently under suspension for supplying inaccurate information that was required as a condition to move up from the GXG First Quote to the GXG Main Quote market and has previously been suspended for corporate governance failings in relation to filing accurate information to Companies House (UK) in a timely fashion.

On the same day, Astra Resources announced that it has “taken a very significant position in the carbon reduction market on its balance sheet in exchange for 270m Euros of scrip”. (Scrip is a substitute for legal currency – outside the company it is worthless.)

The carbon reduction benefits are from the management of tropical rainforests at a country level throughout the Asia Pacific region. Astra’s partners have negotiated country level agreements, and are using an internationally recognised financial registry, as well as the most experienced science teams in the region.

So it appears that Sovereign Green Global has sold carbon credits from three REDD projects (that may or may not exist) to Astra Resources (a company facing legal action and that has been suspended from GXG Markets) for scrip (which is worthless outside Astra Resources).

Court order confirms landowners victory over Malaysian land grabbers

May 25, 2014 1 comment

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Villagers secure victory over Malaysian land grabbers in Papua New Guinea

May 21, 2014 11 comments

The people of Collingwood Bay in Papua New Guinea have won back their land from Malaysian loggers and oil palm companies after a hard fought battle in which that received support from many groups and individuals both in PNG and overseas, including Oro Governor, Gary Juffa.

Collingwood Bay. Photo Eric Wakker RAN

Collingwood Bay. Photo Eric Wakker (RAN)

The National Court in Port Moresby has declared that two Special Agriculture and Business Leases covering 38,350 hectares of land are null and void and ordered the Sate to cancel the title deeds..

Spokesperson for the landowners, Lester Seri, said last night “the Village people got the news of the Court decision and are celebrating and shedding tears in jubilation”.

The leases were originally issued in July 2012 to two PNG registered companies, Sibu Management Limited and Wanigela Agro Industrial Limited. But in October 2012 Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK) a Malaysian oil palm company announced that, together with Malaysian investment company Batu Kawan, it had acquired the rights to the land  – via a third company, Collingwood Bay Plantations.

The two leases were issued by the Department if Lands despite a government moratorium on new SABLs and a Commission of Inquiry which was on-going at the time, as we revealed in 2012.

The Commission of Inquiry found more than 5 million hectares of land in PNG has been fraudulently leased using the SABL mechanism, but the government has failed to implement the Commission recommendations and revoke the unlawful leases.

Lester Seri says “while our people are celebrating they are mindful of the innocent families and other communities struggling thought the country with the same problem, particularly in Turubu, Pomio and elsewhere and in East Sepik, East New Britain and Oro Provinces. We are urging the government to take a firm and descisive decision in dealing with the CoI recommendations by cancelling all the illegal leases. Court cases are expensive and beyond the means of most village people”.

For Collingwood Bay the court has accepted that the customary landowners never gave their consent to their land being leased and that the lease applications contained serious flaws.

When the applications for the leases were made with the Department of Lands it was not revealed the land in question was customarily owned and the survey paln referred only to a small block of land that was acquired by an Anglican mission over 100 years earlier.

The legal victory will be a serious embarrassment for KLK, a member of the international Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Batu Kawan and the RSPO.

In April 2013  the Collingwood Bay landowners filed a formal complaint with the RSPO pointing out that KLK’s involvement in the leases breached RSPO policies but the Roundtable has not taken any action against KLK.