CONSERVATIONISTS RAP UK FOR PNG LUMBER IMPORTS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 24) – Environmental activists have lashed out at the British Government for failing to crack down on the purchase of "illegally and unsustainably" logged timbers from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

Campaigners from PNG and Indonesia, in London for International Biodiversity Day on Saturday, delivered letters to the UK environment secretary Margaret Beckett ahead of the event, which highlighted the destruction caused by logging in Indonesia.

They said at least two million hectares of forest are lost annually in PNG, home to the third-largest rainforest on the planet.

A statement released by the Friends of the Earth and posted on their website on Saturday said the letters also highlighted the devastating impact of logging operations on local communities.

The international environmental group said the UK Government is a major buyer of timber and timber products and its contracts account for 15 percent of timber use in the UK.

An investigation by the group in 2001 found that about 60 percent of tropical timber sold in the UK could be from illegal sources.

"The UK Government is happy to take the credit for tackling the trade in illegally logged timber, but it is failing to follow up its words with action. It must honor its commitments to local communities in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea," said Friends of the Earth’s corporate campaigner Robin Webster.

May 25, 2004

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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