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Corporations in the Forest

Page - February 28, 2006
Illegal and destructive logging is rife throughout the Paradise Forests. One of the greatest challenges is the need to improve law enforcement, including the elimination of corruption and bribery amongst companies and government officials.

A Rimbunan Hijau truck picking up logs from the Baram valley area. The Penan are one of the few remaining nomadic peoples of the rain forest. Their homeland in the Malaysian state of Sarawak is undergoing one of the highest rates of logging on earth.

In Indonesia it is estimated that 76-80 percent of all logging is illegal. Almost all logging in Papua New Guinea is illegal because it is done without the full and informed consent of the customary landowners.

Logging in the Solomon Islands is controlled by a handful of Asian corporations. These companies have long been criticised and documented as providing little benefit to the country whilst employing destructive practices, including: illegal logging, illegal log exports, illegal payments to officials, destruction of local water supplies and prostitution.

Although virtually all Papua New Guinea's land is owned by indigenous communities, logging companies are still able to destroy the forest at record rates. Logging companies have already acquired 70 percent of Papua New Guinea's available forest resources. The government is planning to hand out concessions for most of the remaining accessible forest to logging companies, even though they flout the law.

The most destructive company operating in the area is Malaysian logging giant, Rimbunan Hijau, responsible for nearly half of all logs that leave the country. In its insatiable drive to profit from destroying the forest, Rimbunan Hijau continues to break the law. It fraudulently acquires concessions to log forest areas, breaches environmental regulations and commits human rights abuses. Yet the company appears to be protected by political patronage and its forest crimes go unchecked.

An Ombudsman Commission investigating the illegal extension of the Wawoi Guavi logging concession in Papua New Guinea awarded to a Rimbunan Hijau owned company, accused consecutive Forest Ministers of being involved in serious misconduct whilst high ranking politicians are accused of acquiring logging concessions with total disregard of the law and the customary landowners.

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