GREENPEACE AND WORLD WIDE FUND FOR NATURE

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GREENPEACE PACIFIC WORLD WIDE FUND FOR NATURE

PRESS RELEASE March 24, 1999

CALL FOR NEW THINKING ON PNG FOREST MANAGEMENT

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 24, 1999 - Greenpeace Pacific/World Wide Fund for Nature)---An analysis of the National Forest Management Plan, prepared by a group of independent experts, calls for a moratorium on advertising of new Forest Management Agreements and extensions.

The critique, entitled Sustaining Papua New Guinea's Natural Heritage examines the social, economic and environmental implications of the Plan, and suggests alternatives.

Kilyali Kalit of the World Wide Fund for Nature said PNG's National Forest Plan, which has been in operation since 1996, had one vision for the country's forests -- for foreign loggers to cut them down.

"We have an alternative vision in which industrial logging is phased out and landowners control small and medium scale use of their forests," he said.

The critique's launch comes as the Government has drastically lowered taxes on log exports. As a result, log exports have doubled, but the Government's revenue from tax is unchanged. At the same time, the Government is pushing for the opening up of new concessions and the end of log monitoring is threatened.

"The government is looking for a quick fix," says Greenpeace's Brian Brunton. "More logging activity gives the illusion of economic recovery, but it is based on the myth that industrial logging promotes economic return for Papua New Guineans. The reality is only the foreign loggers are benefiting."

The key recommendations of the Greenpeace/WWF critique are: the overhaul of the National Forest Plan; changes to the planning process so that existing forest values and constraints are taken into account; and landholders and communities have a real say in how their forests are used.

"Greenpeace and WWF want to see changes in the way decisions relating to forest management are made," Kalit said. "Landowners should have an increased role. For example, a land use options mechanism could be set up to help communities map existing forest uses and consider the most beneficial uses of their natural resources."

The critique was distributed to members of the National Forest Board last year. It is understood the Board is examining its recommendations.

For more details contact: Kilyali Kalit at WWF, TEL: 3253224

Brian Brunton at Greenpeace Pacific, TEL: 3260560

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