Forest association refutes claims

National

MORE than 70 per cent of timber exports from Papua New Guinea do not come from special agricultural business lease (SABL) areas, according to the Papua New Guinea Forest Industries Association.
PNG Forest Industries Association executive officer, Bob Tate made this rebuttal following a report by London-based activists that because a small number of agricultural leases have been successfully challenged in court, all timber exports from PNG were illegal.
“This is nonsense,” Tate said.
He said that the vast majority of SABLs had not been ruled illegal by any court and that agricultural operations had every right to continue.
“Even the incomplete review inquiry into SABLs recommended the cancellation of only 29 out of the more than 70 SABLs that then existed.”
Tate said the activists were attempting to attack Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and damage PNG’s major exporters.
“They are lobbying retailers in the US to stop buying products from PNG” Tate said.
“This will have a profound impact on jobs, livelihoods and government revenues in the country.”
“Their claims have no factual basis. They are stating that because a small number of agricultural leases have been successfully challenged in court, then all timber exports from PNG are illegal. This is nonsense.
“It’s a fact that over 70 per cent of timber exports from PNG don’t even come from SABL areas.
“This is wilful ignorance of the situation on the ground that could cause significant commercial damage to PNG’s export industries.” The report’s authors also claimed that any PNG timber that was processed in China and then exported to the United States risked infringing the Lacey Act.

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