31 Jul 2006

Malaysian logging company says its report into logging in PNG says it is legal

10:41 am on 31 July 2006

A Malaysian logging company accused of illegally stripping Papua New Guinea's rainforests has in turn accused green groups of mounting an international slander campaign against it.

Rimbunan Hijau, the largest logging company operating in PNG, has long been accused of colluding with PNG political leaders to illegally harvest rainforest timber to the detriment of local landowners.

The news agecny AAP says RH commissioned an Australian consulting firm ITS Global to investigate.

RH managing director, James Lau, said at the launch in Port Moresby of ITS Global's latest report, that claims by Greenpeace and other groups that logging companies in PNG were operating illegally were shown to be false.

The reports indicated the forestry industry in PNG played a key role in providing jobs, government revenue and infrastructure such as roads, schools and health posts in PNG.

In March, the US-based forestry watchdog, Forest Trends, said most forestry operations in PNG were illegal and ecologically and economically unsustainable.

It said corrupt connections between logging companies and PNG's political elite must be broken and forestry laws adhered to.

But PNG's Forestry Minister, Patrick Pruaitch, said a false case had been made against commercial forestry which operated "in full compliance with PNG laws and regulations".