3 Dec 2008

PNG timber scheme's intregrity doubted

11:49 am on 3 December 2008

Greenpeace and two leading PNG environmental NGOs have greeted with skepticism a new timber legality scheme announced by Malaysian logging giant, Rimbunan Hijau and the Papua New Guinea Forest Industries Association.

The TLTV scheme claims to be the first to independently verify the legality of timber leaving PNG.

However Greenpeace and PNG's Eco-Forestry Forum are concerned that Swiss firm, SGS, which the PNG government has contracted to monitor all its log exports, is not an independent and neutral enough body to implement a verification scheme.

The Eco-Forestry Forum spokesperson Effrey Dademo says SGS is too close to the PNG logging industry, is an advocate of industry views, and has courted minimal input from NGOs on the process.

Greenpeace International has also looked at two TLTV schemes in Russia and Africa and found that neither was able to fully meet criteria needed for a credible legality verification system.

Greenpeace's Tiy Chung says SGS verified as legal Swiss logging company Danzer in the Congo but Greenpeace found Danzer was carrying out massive transfer pricing and tax avoidance which the TLTV system failed to pick up.