LUCRATIVE PNG SANDALWOOD TRADE QUESTIONED

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 8, 2000 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Prized sandalwood is being harvested indiscriminately and sold to buyers in Vanimo and Jayapura, Ambunti-Dreikikir MP Judah Akesim said.

Landowners as well as outsiders are involved in this lucrative trade, Mr. Akesim said while asking Forests Minister Michael Ogio to take steps to halt it.

Sandalwood is used for carving and burned as incense, and yields aromatic oil used in perfumes.

Mr. Ogio, recently appointed Deputy Prime Minister, said that the trees are the people's to do with as they please unless the government declares an area a Forest Management Area. When this happens, buyers and exploiters require a license to deal with the landowners.

He also said that he was not happy with many large harvesters coming into the country, although he was pleased with the work being done by some existing ones in relation to downstream processing.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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

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