28 Apr 2008

Claims new PNG-Australia Forest Carbon partnership doesn't do enough

7:48 pm on 28 April 2008

Greenpeace has urged Australia to make assistance to Papua new Guinea on forest management conditional on the country cleaning up its forestry sector.

The environmental group's call comes after agreement on the new PNG-Australia Forest Carbon partnership was reached at last week's joint Ministerial Forum in Madang.

Under the partnership, Australia's Government will initially provide 2.8 million US dollars and technical assistance for joint activities with PNG to help reduce greenhouse emissions from deforestation.

While Greenpeace has cautiously welcomed the patrnership, it says steps need to be taken to stop illegal and destructive logging in PNG.

Greenpeace Forest campaigner Dorothy Tekwie says that at least 80 percent of logging in PNG is illegal and moves to stamp this out should be the priority:

"Australia should under this initial technical assistance to look into giving PNG the capacity to be able to deal with this issue; A condition for this Australian assistance should be for PNG to clean up its act in the forest sector."

Meanwhile, PNG's Eco-Forestry Forum has questioned how the new partnership will benefit local people.

The Forum's executive director Thomas Paka says while it's good to see the governments promoting sustainable management of forests, a number of issues remain outstanding.

Issues like consent from the landowners, how the benefits will be shared, what mechanisms will be available for the trickling down of any benefits from carbon trading - going down to the people. So apart from the conservation, we're now more focussed on how these benefits are going to be distributed.

Thomas Paka says given the mismanagement of large sums of money by PNG's National Fisheries and Forest Authorities, there's no guarantee that this new mechanism will benefit local people.