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.
Destruction 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.
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.
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 (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.”
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.