- Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) logging and land clearance for agricultural projects occur predominantly in natural forest areas.
The majority of exports are roundlogs. There is little plantation production and only a limited number of processing facilities.
- There are reportedly serious governance and corruption challenges highly relevant to the forestry sector. Multiple official inquiries and independent studies have documented widespread corruption and failure to enforce laws.
- NGOs continue to document sector-wide illegalities.
- Forest clearance permits intended for agricultural development, often used as a pretext for gaining access to timber, have become a major source of logs exported from PNG over the last decade. These permits are frequently issued illegally and without transparency or due process, in particular violating laws around customary land rights.
- The vast majority of logs are destined for China where they account for approximately one-third of the annual import of tropical logs. The EU and U.S. do not import wood products directly from PNG, but import a number of wood products manufactured in China that potentially contain wood from PNG.
- The log export monitoring system developed by the SGS Group (SGS), which covers taxes paid, species and volumes, is not designed to verify timber legality. A national Timber Legality Standard, under development since 2010, has not been finalized and continues to contain significant gaps in coverage according to civil society experts.
Read more by downloading Papua New Guinea’s Timber Legality Risk Dashboard here.
PNG’s tax authority has imposed a historic £31 million assessment against a logging operator for tax evasion.
Internal Revenue Commissioner (IRC) General Sam Koim, who announced the audit findings on June 26, said: “The logging sector in PNG has long been suspected of involvement in tax evasion. Instead of turning a blind [eye], we have initiated over twenty audits since I took office… I am pleased to report that this is the first outcome of those audits.”
The recent security agreements between Papua New Guinea and the United States are a good deal for the planet—but a tough pill for Beijing to swallow, and one that might come with potential blowback.
The new agreements accelerate coastal security strategies that also help with climate change adaptation by protecting vulnerable fisheries. These new moves point toward greater opportunities for further climate mitigation and resilience, using existing climate programs in Papua New Guinea and international climate financing. Papuan Prime Minister James Marape has often spoken of his enthusiasm for climate financing, which is also a high priority for the whole of the Blue Pacific Continent 2050 strategy that was endorsed and launched last July 2022 by a coalition of island nations. With the Biden administration set to host a major U.S.-Pacific island summit this fall, American interest in Pacific climate adaptation is growing.
But one aspect of these programs that American officials discuss only behind closed doors is their role in countering Chinese influence in the Pacific. Some of the programs are aimed at curbing environmental damage committed largely by Chinese companies through questionable fishing practices and widespread logging and mining. Pushing Chinese firms with dubious environmental practices out of Papua New Guinea and elsewhere also helps reduce the role of Chinese money, and influence, in Pacific politics—a double win for the United States.
The United States and Papua New Guinea have signed a new defence and maritime cooperation agreement to combat illegal fishing, illegal logging and drug smuggling in PNG waters. The two countries also agreed to further climate-change cooperation when regional leaders met in Port Moresby for the US–Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Dialogue.
Chairman for Law and Order, Edwin Maigen, called for the investigation, charging and harsh punishment of three Malaysians, whom he alleges are connected to logging companies operating in New Ireland. He accused Malaysian companies of monopolizingi the logging industry in PNG and harming the country’s people and infrastructure.
Acting Provincial Administrator and Forestry Enforcement Crime Unit Chairman Moses Taram expressed his concern about the incident and announced a crackdown on illegal activities at logging camps.
A task force comprising customs, immigration, police and labor will investigate logging camps to ensure that these companies operate within the legal limits.
The immigration and Citizenship Authority Special Operations team has repatriated 22 men into Port Moresby from Wewak, East Septik Province over alleged involvement in illegal logging in Hawain.
The duplication of land titles has become an issue and the Minister for Lands, John Rosso is determined to correct a lot of those illegal deals and have the land transferred back to the original title holders.
Papua New Guinea’s Centre for Environment Law and Community Rights, or CELCOR, wants police working for logging companies to be sacked from the force. This follows the killing of two landowners and a policeman at a forestry site in East Sepik last month. Those deaths have sparked a parliamentary call for an inquiry into police staff working for logging companies as security.
The 2017 National Assessment of Risk by the Bank of PNG states that ” The threats and vulnerabilities most likely to have severe domestic ML consequences for PNG are tax evasion (including GST fraud), illicit drug related activities and the movement of funds obtained from bribery and corruption. The laundering of funds derived from illegal logging and fishing are more likely to accrue offshore, although some of this will find its way back to PNG to support continuation of these activities. This has international implications for PNG because those countries face a domestic ML problem created by criminal offences within PNG and this requires cooperation between PNG authorities and those in neighbouring jurisdictions.
The highest priority for the offshore ML of funds generated within PNG is to address the cause: corruption and the ongoing illegal logging and fishing. PNG can and should work with other jurisdictions to trace, locate, freeze and recover these criminal proceeds but addressing the problem at its source is critical.”
Click here to access the Global Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (ILAT) Risk assessment tool and to download the Forest Trends User Guide describing the functionality of the ILAT Risk Data Tool.
Click here to access the Cattle Data Tool.