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Rainforest in Papua New Guinea yesterday - today - tomorrow


The sovereign state of Papua New Guinea after a vote in 1972 was established 1975.

• A population of 6 Mio inhabitants dispersed in areas seperated from each other by natural boundaries • a constant change of climate and vegetation - the worlds second biggest island nation • PNG is top ranking beyond dispute when it comes to biodiversity • it were the resources of the country which attracted foreign interest already in the 19th century. Kopra was the favourite cash crop at that time • taxes where charged to generate a demand for money and enable a market economy according to western standards.

sea shells were acknowledged as a complementary currency and the Tolai Exchange Bank does exchange these shells (fathom) into official currency. The circulation volume is said to be something between 6 and 8 Mio Kina which compares to 2 Mio Euro.


Rimbunan Base Camp.

Logging for transport by truck.

Truck in rain forest (source: PNG Forest Industries Ass.)

As we wait for the European Commission to consider legislation to prevent illegal timber from entering Europe, a Greenpeace team in Papua New Guinea have stepped in to prevent a ship from loading up with wood of dubious provenance. The problem again has historic roots if you look at the volatility of the Kopra price between 1910 and 1940. Forced to sell more Kopra for less revenue did not really make sense from the point of view of the indigenous people. The overall irritation about the actions of the administration - whether German or English - contributed to widespread speculation about some special knowledge westerners were having and hiding from the Papuans.


A Greenpeace team occupies the Harbour Gemini, carrying illegal timber from Papua New Guinea and bound for China.

The sovereign state of Papua New Guinea after a vote in 1972 was established 1975, but there was little progress in the sense of a market economy. PNG until today is heavily export oriented and dependent on the volatility of commodity prices. The transfer of these revenues to the population and the establishment of regulations and infrastructure as a prerequisite for a developing domestic market - all these are pending issues to day. But recent developments from PNG indicate that the issue starts to enter a new round and the setting is indeed challenging in that it is promising and risky at the same time.

Sir Michael Somare — Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Prime Minister — jets soon to Copenhagen pledging to protect the country’s rainforests in exchange for REDD carbon money. Yet back home he has left a long list of shameful and corrupt rainforest/climate policies. As Copenhagen and REDD talks start, Somare pals Rimbunan Hijau of Malaysia continue logging in Ramu, Madang, despite a court order demanding they stop. Corruption, human rights abuses, and ecological devastation have no place in REDD or Papua New Guinea. Now is the time to ask that Mr. Somare ensure court orders are upheld against illegal logging, and to end the industrial logging of primary rainforests as part of any Copenhagen REDD deal.


Rainforest in Papua New Guinea