30 Oct 2008

PNG Supreme Court confirms Malaysian logging giant won concession illegally

7:45 pm on 30 October 2008

The Malaysian logging company Rimbunan Hijau has admitted that its rights to log the vast Kamula Doso forest area in Papua New Guinea's Western Province were awarded illegally.

The admission came just minutes before PNG's Supreme Court upheld a challenge against the allocation of the concession which was launched by the Eco-Forestry Forum two years ago.

The court found Rimbunan Hijau was not entitled to take on the 800,000-hectare area, considered the jewel in the crown of PNG's untouched tropical forest, as an extension of a smaller adjacent concession it has.

The Forum's executive director Thomas Paka calls the decision a major victory for good governance.

"Independent reports have shown that there seems to be decisions that are made which are questionable. And we have raised these issues time and time again, there is something going on within the government ministers and the people who are making decisions and the company itself."

By not logging Kamula Dosa says an estimated 36 million tons of carbon has been saved, worth over a billion US dollars.