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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 3) – Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau has agreed to increase its landowner premiums and forestation levy for its Wawoi-Guavi timber project in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province.

The coup by six landowner groups from Blocks 1, 2, and 3 of the Wawoi-Guavi project to get more benefits for their felled trees comes after a review by a tripartite group representing the government, RH and landowners.

The review recognized the need to increase landowner premiums, reforestation levies and community benefits.

RH applied for an extension to its Wawoi-Guavi timber permit (TP 1-7) and on approval by the National Forest Authority agreed to increase its landowner premium from K4 (US$1.24) to K6 (US$1.85) per cubic meter of logs harvested and its reforestation levy from 50 toea to K1 (US30 cents) per cubic meter.

RH (PNG) Group managing director James Lau, who signed the amendment to extend the timber project’s life, described the review and negotiations between his company, the NFA and landowners as successful.

He said his company would make it its priority to implement the project in the best interests of landowners and the Government.

"We are a very committed corporate group that would take the concerns of the Government, the people and the (National Forest) authority and we want to work hand in hand with the relevant authorities and the people in the best interest of this country," Mr Lau said.

Environment and Conservation Secretary Dr Wari Iamo and NFA acting managing director Terry Warra signed the amendment to extend the project on behalf of the State.

Landowner representative on the review team Solomon Kosa praised all parties and described the deal as a recognition of their cries to the Government for more benefits to flow from their forest resources. He said the amended agreement contained provisions, which ensured equal participation by landowners in the development of their communities.

May 4, 2004

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