Men from the village of Aweikaimqassi work together to prepare a freshly cut tree for milling on a portable sawmill, as part of a local eco-forestry project.
As part of the eco-forestry project, we teamed up with the local
people and set up the Global Forest
Rescue Stationon the shore of Lake Murray in 2006.
The rescue station was used as thebase for surveying the
surrounding forest to determine traditional clanboundaries, and
training for the local communities in land and businessmanagement,
marketing and timber milling.
Celebrating the arrival of the first shipment of taun, rosewood
and red cedar to Australia, Lake Murray landowner, Sep Galeva said
that while it had taken his people a lot of hard work over the last
few years to get the timber exported, this was just the first of
many containers to come.
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"What we have shown is that anybody can do this. Forest
communities around PNG don't have to rely on industrial logging for
survival, they can do it themselves in a way that protects the
environment and keeps the land for future generations," Mr Galeva
"Our bad experience with illegal and destructive logging from
the Kiunga Aiambak road project, run by Concord Pacific, made my
people choose eco-forestry instead so that we have control over our
Greenpeace Forest Campaigner Sam Moko added, "By doing this they
willcontinue to enjoy all the benefits their forests traditionally
providethem and get real income from cutting their timber for
"There has been a lot of pressure on communities in LakeMurray
to sign their land away to logging and palm oil interests
andlandowners need to make informed decisions before they agree to
the bigcompanies, otherwise they could find themselves regretting
theirdecision and facing ongoing social, environmental and legal
"TheLake Murray people involved in eco-forestry have thought
about theiroptions and have decided to take their future in their
The people of Lake Murray approached Greenpeace, the Foundation
for People and Community Development (FPCD), Barefoot and other
non-government organisations to help them get their eco-forestry
project off the ground.
According to Yati Bun, Executive Director of FPCD, this kind of
initiative is a way for landowners to take charge of their forest
"We joined the Lake Murray initiative to support landowners
manage the forests themselves and make sure they are getting the
maximum benefits," Mr Bun said.
"They are earning 2-3 times what they would get locally from
logging companies for their sawn timber. Over the long term
eco-forestry provides economic, social and environmental benefits
to local communities, empower them to be self sufficient and
ensures their valuable forest resource survives into the
"We want other PNG forest owners to know that eco-forestry is a
viable alternative to logging, and that they can make very good
returns exporting timber to Australia but they also need to know
that it is not easy. If people want to choose to control their own
destinies they must commit themselves to working hard and not sit
back and expect things to just come to them," he said.
The Lake Murray eco-forestry initiative has been supported by
funding from Doen Foundation in the Netherlands.
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