With logging and clearing for oil palm threatening many forests in Papua New Guinea, some communities are still standing strong and protecting their forests. This week I’ve been out with a Greenpeace team filming and photographing ‘Ecoforestry’ as a solution for a community in East New Britain. Tavolo community and two neighbouring village communities are protecting 32,000 ha of forest in a Wildlife Management Area together with 4000 ha for ecoforestry. Ecoforestry protects the forest ecosystem while at the same time providing an income for the community from small-scale portable sawmilling.
I was amazed by how strong this community is in their stand against logging and conversion for oil palm. The people of Tavolo have seen and experienced the impacts logging has had on other areas in East New Britain. They have depended on the forest for generations. They maintain a strong connection to their forest as customary landowners and have strong vision with leaders who are showing the way for the younger generations. I was really impressed by their careful way they look after their forest. Most of the people I came across tells me a story of the forest and and its importance to them.
A new threat to the forest of this peaceful community is the so-called Special Agriculture Business Leases. This land grabbing scheme is a real threat to lives of the Tavolo people and many other communities around PNG. Greenpeace documented this threat in a recent report called Up For Grabs.The leaders of Tavolo have spoken up against this land grab through Government’s Commission of Inquiry. I was even asked when the results of this enquiry will be presented to the government to stop this from happening.
So we hope to bring the story to PNG and the world of the threat of SABLs to PNG communities and how ecoforestry can be a solution.
Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace Australia Pacific