Supreme Court win for forests in Papua New Guinea
The Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has saved 800,000 hectares of virgin rainforest from logging, the equivalent in carbon emissions saved to removing 40 million cars from the roads.
The Eco-Forestry Forum asked the Supreme Court to overturn rights given illegally to timber company Rimbunan Hijau to log 800,000 hectares of virgin rainforest in the Kamula Dosa forest area in the Western Province of PNG.
The matter was listed for trial in the Supreme Court this week, but minutes before the hearing began, Rimbunan Hijau conceded their logging rights were illegal.
Eco-Forestry Forum had been fighting through the courts for over two years to over turn the company’s rights to log in Kamula Dosa which was granted by the National Court in 2007.
A 3-men Supreme Court bench recorded its displeasure at the conduct of Rimbunan Hijau in fighting the case for two years when it knew its logging rights were illegal by ordering the company to pay indemnity costs to the PNG Eco-Forestry Forum.
Humane Society International (HSI) congratulates the PNG Eco-Forestry Forum for bringing this landmark case to court. “If the rainforests had been lost to logging, it would have released 160 million cubic tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere exacerbating climate change. What the Eco-Forestry Forum has achieved is the equivalent to removing 40 million cars from the road for a year. It’s phenomenal”, said HSI Director Michael Kennedy.
Speaking after the court win Kenn Mondiai, Eco-Forest Forum Chairperson, declared “This is a major victory for good governance in forestry sector in Papua New Guinea”.
“This decision demonstrates to the whole world what has been going on for far too long, and legally reaffirms the Forum’s claim of widespread illegal logging in PNG”.
“This is a great victory for civil society and non government organisations in general,” added Thomas Paka, Executive Director of the Forum. “PNG’s legal framework has shown that the ordinary people of PNG can stand up to corruption over the development of their natural resources and win”.
HSI is proud to have provided modest financial resources to the Eco-Forestry Forum to help them fight the case.