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FORESTS UPDATE: World Bank Approves PNG Forestry Project

From: Thomas Mueller <tomtom.mueller@gmx.de>
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 2004 00:36:57 +0700
Message-ID: <000801c4b3a6$c7494f70$fb78fea9@bigmac>
To: "png-group lists.w3.org" <png-group@w3.org>
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FOREST CONSERVATION NEWS TODAY
World Bank Approves PNG Forestry Project Loan Despite Protests
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Forest Networking a Project of Forests.org, Inc.
   http://forests.org/ -- Forest Conservation Portal
   http://www.PNGweb.com/ -- PNG Rainforest Conservation Portal

OVERVIEW & COMMENTARY by Forests.org
The World Bank has approved its Papua New Guinea Forestry Project,
despite significant in-country and international concern regarding
its emphasis upon reforming and subsidizing continued industrial log
exports.  The project is based upon the premise that better
monitoring and governmental logging approval processes will result in
a timber industry that conserves Papua New Guinea's forests and
biodiversity while promoting community development and well-being.
This comes at a time when illegal logging practices are rampant,
logging protestors are beaten and imprisoned, and after fifteen years
of similar failed reform efforts.

Late in the project development process, the World Bank removed all
support for development of policy that promoted alternative forest
management activities other than commercial logging by foreign multi-
nationals.  This is the greatest tragedy of this unimaginative
project: just as the moratorium on logging wraps up, the Bank's
project fails to seize the opportunity to diversify forest
management; to establish policy that allows a range of activities in
terms of ownership, scale, intensity, processing, etc.  For the next
six years, the Bank has successfully guaranteed continued access by
international markets to PNG's rainforest timbers, essentially for
free.

Given the project's financial support for community and ecologically
based conservation projects through the GEF trust fund, Forests.org
is willing to give the project the benefit of the doubt - but only
for awhile.  Should this project fail to rapidly reign in out of
control logging of the World's third largest remaining rainforest,
the Bank's emphasis upon reforming rather than dismantling industrial
forestry in PNG's primary old-growth rainforests will be totally
discredited, and must then be reexamined.  If illegal commercial and
environmentally damaging logging continues despite this project,
forest conservationists will demand an end to commercial logging and
log exports, and movement of the industry to community based small
and medium scaled management activities.  In fact, given the
scientific certainty that commercial scaled logging in tropical
rainforests can never be ecologically sustainable, we will continue
to demand these policy changes regardless of the Bank's subsidies to
highly environmentally damaging commercial logging.

Now that the project is approved, perhaps the World Bank will choose
to share with PNG and international NGOs the project's content and
the conditions the government has agreed upon to receive the loans (I
was promised a copy of the project documents some eight months ago by
the Country Director  still waiting).  Or perhaps this is asking too
much, and those that have labored for PNG's rainforests for decades
are expected to blindly accept this project as the savior of PNG's
rainforests.  Not.
g.b.


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Received on Saturday, 16 October 2004 17:37:58 GMT

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