| PNGi Forests
PORT MORESBY - For more than 25 years, deep in the remote and inaccessible tropical forests of Papua New Guinea, a huge industrial complex has been operating.
Foreign owned companies have been bulldozing tracks, felling huge trees, cutting logs and dragging them to the coast to be loaded onto ships and sent overseas.
According to official records, since 1993 at least 78 million cubic meters of unprocessed logs, with a declared value of around K28 billion, have been exported from the forests of PNG.
It is an industry that has attracted much criticism. Rampant corruption was first laid bare in the seminal Barnett Commission of Inquiry, but a new Forestry Act that followed did little to stem the tide.
Allegations of illegal logging, human rights abuses, violence, trespass, environmental damage and unsustainable logging have all be born out in numerous court cases, published reports and even television documentaries; but nothing seemingly has ever changed.
More than 150 different companies have been involved in the plunder. Some of them, like Rimbunan Hijau and WTK have become household names, but most remain anonymous and unknown.
Who are the companies that have been involved in the industrial logging of PNG forests? Where have they operated? How much timber have they exported? And on what legal basis?
These are all questions that until now have had no answer; the anonymity of the logging industry is one factor that has allowed it to operate with impunity.
But a new online forest portal, PNGi Forests, changes that.
The new portal combines data collected from a number of different sources shines a light on PNG’s industrial logging industry.
PNGi Forests, which you can link to here, allows the user to search and filter information on logging companies, their ownership, their logging operations and their exports.