Photos Reveal Truth About Life In A PNG Logging Concession

A Greenpeace team spent two weeks documenting life and conditions in three Papua New Guinea (PNG) logging concessions. We visited remote villages in Gulf and Western Provinces where logging companies Rimbunan Hijau (RH) and Turama Forest Industries (TFI, a Rimbunan Hijau group company) are felling ancient rainforests and abusing their workers.

Sacred site bulldozed for an airstripDestruction and broken promises

Local people speak of a litany of abuses by these logging companies, including:

  • destroying sacred sites
  • breaking promises of development
  • withholding royalty payments
  • logging too close to villages
  • endangering the food supply.

Sacred site bulldozed (left): Kibiri tribe elder, Kemaru Gary Bissue, looks over the sacred site known as Morere, once used for tribal initiation ceremonies until bulldozed for an airstrip in the rainforests of the Turama Extension logging concession, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea. © Greenpeace/Sutton-Hibbert

“The overwhelming feeling relayed… by landowners… is that both TFI and RH are stealing their resources and exploiting their people, while the government turns a blind eye,” says Greenpeace forest campaigner, Sam Moko. Logging in Turama Extension

Food source trashed (left): TFI loggers bulldoze strips of rainforest to pull out logs in the Turama Extension, Gulf Province. © Greenpeace/Sutton-Hibbert

No money in it for locals

PNG nationals are paid a pittance by the logging companies for dangerous work, usually done with no safety equipment. And their money goes straight back to the company to pay for food and other costs.Logging worker’s payslip

One payslip shows a worker paid K185.25  ($91.85) for 114 hours of work. After paying for food bought on credit from the company canteen, he took home K5 ($2.50). Trapped in a debt cycle with logging companies, their only option is to keep working. They work incredibly hard but don’t even have enough money to pay to leave the area.Ken Karere

Ken Karere (left), from Vailala, an RH concession: “The workload it’s very big… You have no food. You have to go back to the [company] store and buy food on credit and their prices are very high. All is recorded. So once I get paid, all that money goes towards the credit and you’re only left with maybe K10, K15. You have to survive on that for another two weeks but after one day that money’s finished.”

Lee Mara, of the Porome tribe in the TFI-run Turama Extension: “Looking at the environment, much damage has been done. Our riverbeds are already rising. We have sandbanks coming up. We are going to run short of fish. Very soon all our fish will be gone.”

School buildings at Wawoi Guavi logging concession

Kila Oumabe from the Beseremen Clan, in the Turama Extension, tells how food is now harder to find.

Anton David, a teacher from Omati in the Turama Extension: “Without materials and teacher’s guides it’s hard for me to teach, so I closed the school after three months.”


No more school (right): School buildings at Wariho village, Kamusi, Wawoi Guavi logging concession, PNG. © Greenpeace/Sutton-Hibbert

TAKE ACTION: You can help save these forests and their communities. Ask the federal government to urgently restrict illegal and destructive timber imports.

  • Lewis Tyndall

    hi my name is Lewis . I am a Barrister practising at the NSW bar. i am a concerned person. i have recently left PNG where I had extensive meetings with the landowners about the logging in their lands. i am interested in what you have discovered as I have also have had the same stories relayed to me . I am interested if you have some of the examples of the type of rainforest destruction that is going on . Are there any videos or other photos that could be useful to publicise??

  • Miriam W

    It’s disgusting. Rudd should be using his frequent flyer points to go see firsthand what is going on in PNG, rather than the US. Charity starts at home and we should be looking after our own, our own neighbours and doing what we can to address the situation.

  • Danielle

    Hi Lewis. You may be interested in a video we posted on Friday which includes testimonials from PNG resource owners and workers affected by logging:
    http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/resources/videos/deforestation/png3-tfi-190908

    If you haven’t already, you may also want to take action by pressuring the Australian government to stop importing illegal and destructively logged timber. Details here:
    http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/issues/deforestation/take-action

  • Barnah Nellypala

    I thnk Green Peace should have similar survey in the Solomon Islands. There have been news of loggers sexually exploiting young girls in the villages by promising their families big things.

  • Ian Foote

    thanks for bringing us this information ,

  • Daniel

    i think its disgusting what these companies are getting away with in these countries. Why arent the governments over there doing more to stop this happening? I think its corruption. Australia needs to step in here and take over not put up the white flag.

  • Lesley Granger

    I am really ashamed to belong to this HUMAN RACE…We are egotistical and selfish, whatever way we look at ourselves. Lost the true value and respect to all living on this planet. We strive to improve ourselves but somehow we do turn ourselves into the most destructive species here. Look at us! Thinking that money will save us all? When all the rivers, land and air are polluted…how will we all survive? Oh yes…MONEY!
    We all need to understand the URGENCY of this matter! ACT NOW! All of us…Who are we waiting for? (Government?) What are we waiting for? (A miracle?) Better days?
    Pleading desperately,
    Lesley

  • Colin Devenish

    Curse…by Colin Neil Devenish

    Trees cut down
    An old man’s frown
    MacDonald’s clown in a mining town…
    Just looking ‘round
    The heart starts to pound.
    We are driving past
    the graveyard fast
    not looking,
    not thinking,
    not caring.

    Cut down the trees
    There’s petrol in the chainsaw
    Seesaw
    A great gaping sore
    Ulcers with pulses
    Not healing
    Not feeling.
    Cold black oil
    For blood and money.

    The coal that didn’t turn into diamonds
    Burning left us choking
    No solution
    Just pollution
    Fossil Fuel fiasco…
    Lungs of the world
    cut down the trees
    (‘and the branch we sit on.’)
    Ice is melting
    Rising seas
    Global warming
    Weather storming
    So we feed the greed.

    Crazy Weather
    Crazy man
    Capitalism’s crazy plan.
    You know it’s gone from bad to worse
    Our greed…will be…our children’s …curse.

    email address:
    bekindandblossom@yahoo.com

  • Blog is super!

  • Danielle

    Thanks everyone for your comments. Seems a good time to remind you that you can take action by contacting Tony Burke, Australian Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Ask him to protect the last remaining ancient forests by introducing legislation to stop imports of illegally and destructively sourced timber into Australia.

    Email: Tony.Burke.MP@aph.gov.au

    Electorate office:
    PO Box 324
    Kingsgrove NSW 1480
    Phone: (02) 9554 3808
    Fax: (02) 9554 3504

    Parliament House Office
    PO Box 6022
    Parliament House
    Canberra ACT 2600
    Phone: (02) 6277 7520
    Fax: (02) 6273 4120

  • cut down the tree.not good for enviroment.so sadly

    sears parts

  • It’s easy to believe that this kind of exploitation of both people and our planet does not happen on our own doorstep. But it is. I thank Greenpeace for bringing this to our attention, it is now up to us to let our MPs know all about it.

  • David

    Good to see something is being done in PNG at last, particularly with Rimbunan Hijau.
    I was in the shipping industry there in 1984 so was well aware of some 30 ships per month
    leaving PNG stacked with illegal logs. I managed coastal barges and RH was in fact a client,
    having newly commenced operations in PNG. For 27 years they have been raping the forests and the country as I now know. I feel shame I had their logging camps/equip on the vessels I managed, but I was not aware of the situation at the time.
    Allowing for the corruption to high levels and lack of commitment to resources for monitoring I see a tragedy continuing.
    Every Success to you
    David

  • Pingback: Papua New Guinea: Logging "Big Damage" to Communities | WilderUtopia.com()