7 Dec 2006

PNG's eco-forestry forum says exclusion of stakeholders from meetings unconstitutional

11:57 am on 7 December 2006

Papua New Guinea's Eco-Forestry Forum says exclusion of stakeholders from meetings about the country's forestry sector is unconstitutional.

The Forum says last week's cancellation of an international forestry workshop in PNG reflects the barriers in the way of healthy discussion of the industry.

Forum spokesman Steve Sukot says landowners and other stakeholders were poorly represented at an October meeting initiated by the International Tropical Timber Organisation and the National Forest Authority.

Mr Sukot says the Forestry Minister and the National Forest Authority not shown much enthusiasm for such meetings:

"Maybe they have something to hide... I mean, issues of forestry and resources should be dealt with in open dialogue. The country is a democratic country and we have freedom of speech according to our constitution and if they continue to bar these kinds of meetings, and there's no open dialogue, then it's also a breach of our constitution."

Steve Sukot says that without healthy dialogue the sector suffers.