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Posts Tagged ‘National Forest Board’

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.

New satellite images and analysis reveal extent of SABL scam

October 27, 2015 3 comments

We all know the SABL leases are a scam. Even the Prime Minister and his Chief Secretary have had to publicly admit that

So why has nothing been done to cancel the leases and return the land to its customary owners?

Money and corruption – that is the simple reason

The logging companies are making millions from their illegal logging operations and the politicians are being paid to ensure the forest clearances are not interrupted.

Look at this graph produced by Global Witness showing the level of log exports from SABL areas: sabl log exports

One third of PNG log exports now come from SABL areas, earning the logging companies US$ 120 million a year.

And look at the increases – the amount of logging INCRESED DRAMATICALLY once the Commission of Inquiry started and INCREASED AGAIN once the Commission reports were given to the PM.

In the 28 months since the government received those reports in June 2013 nothing has been done to stop the logging –  indeed the National Forest Board has continued to issue and renew the logging licences!

And what about the logging operations themselves? Aren’t the logging companies just clearing forest to plant oil palm?

BULLSHIT!

Just look at this stalitte image showing the logging in one SABL area in East Sepik!

turubu logging

Over 55,000 hectares of forest has been cleared while only 100 hectares (less than 2%) is being used for oil palm. And one-third of the logging is actually OUTSIDE the SABL boundary!!!

All this logging is clearly illegal yet the government and the National Forest Board are letting it happen… and WE ALL KNOW WHY!

Court orders halt to RH logging operations in controversial Pomio SABL areas

November 19, 2014 1 comment

logging

via ACT NOW!

The National Court has issued a restraining order stopping any forest logging operations by Rimbunan Hijau in two controversial Special Agriculture and Business Lease areas in the Pomio district of East New Britain.

The orders have been obtained by landowners from Portions 196C and 197C who claim the SABLs were obtained by fraud and forgery and without their consent and without following the proper processes under the Lands Act.

The Pomio SABLs are part of a wider land grab in PNG which has seen more than 5 million hectares of land taken from customary owners under 99 year leases. A Commission of Inquiry has condemned the leases as being fraudulent and unlawful but the government has not acted to stop logging companies operating in lease areas.

Rimbunan Hijau has already cleared at least 7,000 hectares of forest in the Pomio area alone and exported more than 500,000 cubic metres of timber with a declared value of over $50 million.

In October, the National Forest Board renewed the logging permit for the Pomio SABLs despite widespread opposition from local landowners. In September, the elected ward councillors and other community representatives from the villages of Bairaman, Mauna and Lau, wrote to the National Forest Board requesting the forest clearance permit issued in 2010 not be renewed.

When the Forest Board refused to listen to the landowners plea and elected instead to renew the logging permit the landowners turned to the courts for assistance.

The court orders stop the National Forest Authority doing anything to give effect to the new logging permit and stops RH from conducting any logging or associated activities in Portions 196C or 197C or doing anything else in reliance on the new permit.

The restraining orders were issued by Justice Batari in a court hearing in Kimbe on Friday, 14 November. The matter will return to court in December for further legal arguments.

Forest Board urged not to renew Rimbunan Hijau logging licence

September 4, 2014 2 comments
Papua New Guinea must not renew license to deforest due to legal irregularities, social and environmental harm
logging

Global Witness via ACT NOW! blog

Global Witness is urging Papua New Guinea to block a bid by one of Malaysia’s biggest logging companies, Rimbunan Hijau, to renew a license that permits it to flatten over 40,000 hectares of tropical rainforest in order to grow oil palm. This is due to serious concerns relating to:

  • Allegations that the companies that sub-leased the land to Rimbunan Hijau used fraud and forgery to obtain it.
  • Evidence of illegal child labour and health risks at the oil palm plantation, which challenge Rimbunan Hijau’s claims that it is seriously investing in local communities.
  • Claims by communities living in and around the licensed area that the project is negatively impacting their livelihoods, health and way of life.
  • Major damage to invaluable rainforest reserves and Papa New Guinea’s freshwater ecology as a result of oil palm development.

On 4th September, Papua New Guinea’s Forest Board will decide whether Rimbunan Hijau’s clearance permit in Pomio, East New Britain Province, should be renewed. The permit straddles three Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs), a leasing arrangement that has sparked longstanding controversy due to allegations of fraud and abuse in the acquisition and use of land. In June, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill pledged to cancel any such licenses that were acquired illegally.

Global Witness has seen evidence of forgery in the documents that underpin the SABL belonging to one of the companies that leased to Rimbunan Hijau, called Ralopol Investment Ltd. Communities in the neighbouring lease areas have made similar allegations of fraud and forgery in the acquisition of their land.

“This lease is for 99 years and effectively extinguishes the rights of the traditional landowners, ceding ownership to private companies” said Alex Helan, campaigner for Global Witness. “Many people allege that they did not give their consent for their land to be taken, claims that are backed up by anomalies in the lease’s documentation, including signatures which appear to have been forged”.

Global Witness is not alleging that Gilford Ltd or Rimbunan Hijau group is implicated in fraudulent activity, but is calling on Papua New Guinea’s Forestry Board to halt logging until these issues are resolved in an open and transparent manner.

SABLs characterised by widespread abuse and fraud

In 2011, in response to international pressure, Papua New Guinea’s government launched a Commission of Inquiry into SABLs, giving landowners the chance to testify. The commissioners concluded that SABLs were characterised by “widespread abuse, fraud, lack of coordination between agencies of government, failure and incompetence of government officials to ensure compliance, accountability and transparency within SABL process from application stage to registration, processing, approval and granting of the SABL”.

Two of the three commissioners submitted their reports in June 2013, recommending that nearly all of the leases they reviewed be revoked, or suspended and reviewed. The third commissioner never submitted his report. He had been tasked with reviewing the SABLs in East New Britain, including Pomio.

“The Forest Board cannot use the Commissioner’s failure to submit his report as an excuse for inaction,” said Helan. “It is clear that many landowners affected by the SABL in Pomio did not agree to surrender their land, and oppose oil palm cultivation on it.”

Conditions in and around the palm oil camp

Rimbunan Hijau maintains that its oil palm activities are benefitting the people of Pomio, yet evidence from in and around its plantations suggest otherwise.

Clearing forests for oil palm in Pomio is jeopardising a number of successful local forestry initiatives. The villages of Bairaman, Lau and Mauna, for example, were running a small-scale and sustainable sawmill operation, producing timber for local housing and infrastructure, and selling some to Australia. In 2005, the communities achieved Forest Stewardship Council certification, the highest global standard for forest management. Rimbunan Hijau has already flattened portions of Bairaman and Mauna forest within this zone.

Working conditions inside the concession are also cause for concern. Photographs taken by Global Witness inside the SABL reveal that children are working in the camp, completing manual tasks such as packing fertilizer into bags. Child labour is illegal in Papua New Guinea. The head teacher of a nearby school confirmed that an increasing number of children are not attending school because they are working in the camp.

Investigations also show that workers are being exposed to synthetic fertilisers for protracted periods without gloves, masks, shoes or protective clothing. The International Labour Organisation states that common health risks associated with exposure to these fertilisers includes burns, dermatitis, respiratory and pulmonary problems.

“Rimbunan Hijau are putting an immense amount of energy into clearing rainforests and shipping out logs,” said Helan. “This energy doesn’t seem to have translated into ensuring that labour practices are legal, let alone ‘best practice’. Photographs taken by Global Witness reflect a lax attitude towards the safety and well-being of the local work force.”

When questioned, the company stated that, “Rimbunan Hijau and Gilford take worker safety and labour laws very seriously, and are committed to providing all required safety equipment and training… The specific points you have raised – the presence of children in the Rano camp, and improper use of protective equipment – are now subject to a full investigation.”

 

Fifteen hundred email Forest Board calling for end to illegal SABL logging

August 21, 2014 1 comment

From ACT NOW!

AN_sticker22062014More than one thousand five hundred people have emailed the members of the National Forest Board calling on them to stop the illegal logging occuring in SABL areas.

The email action was set up by ACT NOW! to highlight the actions of foreign-owned logging companies who are stealing logs, destroying the valuable forest environments communities rely on for their subsistence and subjecting local people to violence and abuse.

The National Forest Board oversees the management of forest resources in PNG and is the body with the power to act and stop the logging. But to date the Board members have not taken any action despite the fact the logging companies have illegally gained access into pristine areas of ancient forest by making false promises of long-term agriculture development and have convinced officials to by-pass proper processes to get their logging licences.

A Commission of Inquiry has already revealed how the logging companies have cheated their way into the forests:

With corrupt government officials from implementing agencies riding shotgun for them, opportunistic loggers masquerading as agro-forestry developers are prowling our countryside, scoping opportunities to take advantage of gullible landowners

In total more than 5 million hectares of land has been grabbed from local communities using a mechanism known as Special Agriculture and Business Leases. The government has ordered some leases be cancelled – but nobody has taken any action to stop the logging.