JOURNALISM STUDENTS TOLD ABOUT PNG’S FOREST PROBLEMS

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By Patrick Matbob Journalism Student at Divine Word University

MADANG, Papua New Guinea (September 29, 2000 - Divine Word University/PINA Nius Online)---Unsustainable timber harvesting is the greatest threat to Papua New Guinea's delicate rainforests, Nature Conservancy conservationist Ed Mayer told journalism students here.

Mr. Mayer said major reforms in the forest industry since 1989 had failed to remove this threat.

"Despite good policy, Papua New Guinea's forests are still being harvested at unsustainable levels by unscrupulous loggers," he said.

Mr. Mayer spoke at a weeklong workshop for journalism students at Divine Word University, Madang, on reporting environmental issues.

He said policy reforms followed the 1989 findings of the Barnett Commission of Inquiry into corruption in the forest industry in PNG.

Changes included the adoption of a forest policy, regulations and legislation, forest development guidelines, a national forest plan and a logging code of practice.

Despite these reforms, Mr. Mayer said that The Nature Conservancy and its U.S.-based partner faced difficulties when trying to set up a forestry project for the Josephstaal Forest Management Area in Madang Province.

Mr. Mayer said although they won the tender, their sustainable logging proposals were rejected by the National Forest Board on several occasions.

Mr. Mayer said the project aimed to create a model of best forest management practices and set higher performance standards for the industry.

This included profitable and certified sustainable forestry management at an industrial scale, low-impact timber harvesting techniques, set aside conservation areas and a fairer distribution of benefits.

Early this year the landowners of Josephstaal and The Nature Conservancy abandoned the project. Mr Mayer said their experiences showed that:

Mr. Mayer said these problems and proposals for changes have been brought to the attention of the government.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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