Foresters claims illegal harvest in Jiwaka

National, Normal

The National, Thursday 23rd August, 2012

TIMBER from Mugmum forest in Jiwaka worth more than K1 billion is being extracted illegally and provincial authorities are helpless, a forestry officer says.
The 300 hectares of kamarere trees planted by the National Forest Authority 30 years ago in North Waghi district are ready to be harvested but because there is no bridge across the Waghi River, forestry officers cannot go in and harvest the trees.
Acting provincial forestry officer Yau Kiuwi said yesterday more than K1 billion worth of trees were ready to be cut but the bridge over Waghi river was washed away some 10 years ago and no attempts have been made to build a new one.
“Without a bridge we cannot transport the logs over the river from the forest,” he said
Illegal loggers had transported a portable sawmill across the river on tubes to process trees they have felled for sale.
Kiuwi said a green post was sold for K3,000 to PNG Power to use as a power post.
“These trees are worth a substantial amount of money standing there but how can we go in and get them?” he asked.
He said the longer they waited for the bridge to be constructed, the more trees would be lost to the illegal loggers.
Stealing in the Mugmum forestry project was now a growing concern but it was a very big area and difficult for his officers to monitor the plantation.
Kiuwi said police had arrested four people for transporting timber cut by illegal loggers at the plantation.
He added they were working closely with police to track down on illegal loggers in the area.