Landowner victory in Papua New Guinea

Feature Story - 28 June, 2011
After a 10 year court battle against one of the worst logging companies in Papua New Guinea (PNG), landowners in Western Province are celebrating an overdue victory - they have finally been compensated.

The PNG National Court has awarded over AU$90 million for environmental damages and social disharmony caused by the Malaysian company, Concord Pacific.

The Court’s judgment was based on statements from 1800 members of four tribes and expert evidence by three environmental scientists who conducted audits and presented evidence to the court.

Head of Lake Murray's Kuni tribe and long-time partner of Greenpeace, Sep Galeva, said:
"After a long battle of 10 years, I am very satisfied with the outcome of the case. It is a warning to the logging and mining companies that if they are doing illegal operations, they won’t get away with it.

“Papua New Guinean’s cannot continue to suffer from the selfish acts of foreign companies. We can no longer sit back and watch our natural resources be taken away and our environment destroyed without any meaningful benefits.

“The PNG Government needs to put in place a moratorium on destructive logging like this. We also need tough policies to make sure logging companies pay a bond before they operate, to make sure that in the event of unlawful damage or breach of agreements, the money can be given to affected landowners.

“Also, any foreign company should declare their mother companies and assets overseas to make it easier to track them if that they run away from their responsibilities.

“I would like to thank NGO’s - both international and national - like CELCOR, Greenpeace and other partners who contributed to this fight.

“Let’s continue to work together to take on these monsters. We must do it for our future generations."

Campaign history

2000 - At the request of landowners in the Lake Murray area of the PNG highlands, Greenpeace began a campaign to stop Concord Pacific’s Kiunga Aiambak road project from destroying pristine rainforest

2002 - Greenpeace released the ‘Partners in Crime’ report, which profiled the scandalous road project as one example of what was going wrong in PNG´s forests.

- Greenpeace’s ship, the Arctic Sunrise also blocked a log shipment. This activity forced the PNG Prime Minister to announce an Inquiry which led to the Kiunga Aiambak logging road being stopped

2008 - Greenpeace built a Global Forest Rescue Station which brought international attention to the destructive impacts of illegal logging companies like Concord Pacific and the plight of local landowners trying to defend their forest homes

Take action - Ask the government for laws to stop Australia importing PNG’s illegal timber