Activists from the Greepeace ship 'Esperanza', and assisted by local land owners, board the 'Harbour Gemini' ship and halt the loading of illegally logged trees from the rainforests of Papua New Guinea.
The peaceful action was greeted joyously by local people who watched from boats, singing and dancing.
The ship, Harbour Gemini, was loading timber in Papua New Guinea, at Paia Inlet, Gulf Province, and was bound for China. Four activists (including one from New Zealand) from the Greenpeace ship, Esperanza, climbed a loading crane to hang a huge banner reading 'Protect Forests, Save Our Climate'.
UPDATE: Evening, 5 September 2008 (Day 3): After 55 hours harnessed to a ship crane, our three activists have been escorted off by armed police. The activists stopped the ship from loading illegally logged timber from the Paradise Forests. They are now safely back on the Greenpeace ship, Esperanza.
UPDATE: Afternoon, 5 September 2008 (Day 3): The activists keep their positions atop the loading crane after over 48 hours.
UPDATE: Morning, 4 September 2008 (Day 2): Activists climb aboard log barges close to the Harbour Gemini ship and paint messages on the side: "Forest Destruction", "Climate Crime" and "Moratorium Now".
Four other activists remain with their "Protect Forests, Save our Climate" banner after over 24 hours atop the loading crane of the Harbour Gemini ship.
We are taking peaceful action in the Paradise Forests at the invitation of local resource owners.
"We're here to protest illegal and destructive logging practices, which are rife in PNG, and the impact this is having on the global climate. The company responsible for the logging of this timber repeatedly breaches forestry laws, then ship the wood off to places like New Zealand" said Raoni hammer, NZ activist on board the Harbour Gemini logging ship.
Watch the action on the Esperanza webcam
Why are we doing this?
Protecting forests saves our climate. Forest destruction accounts for around 20% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions every year. Logging in Papua New Guinea's (PNG) rainforests is out of control.
Says Greenpeace forest campaigner, Sam Moko, who is occupying the Harbour Gemini, "We need to urgently protect these ancient forests to save our climate. Greenpeace is asking the Papua New Guinea government to establish a moratorium on any new large-scale logging concessions or extensions."
PNG's record of corruption and lies
The PNG government has been asking for international money to protect its forests and benefit the global climate. But still illegal and destructive logging continues.
The government has a very poor forest management record, wrapped in accusations of corruption and misappropriation of funds. Recently, logging companies allegedly paid $78 million (US$67 million) into a government minister's private Singapore bank account. If Papua New Guinea is seeking carbon financing support to save their forest, there must be an investigation into these allegations
Locals demand an investigation
Local resource owners in the Turama Extension concession area have repeatedly asked the government for 13 years to investigate documented breaches of forestry laws by Turama Forest Industries, a Rimbunan Hijau Group company. Nothing has been done.
Read a portrait of illegal logger, Rimbunan Hijau
Kemaru Garry Bissue, is Chairman of the Kikori Environmental Association and a landowner from the Kibiri tribe. His tribe has asked the PNG government to act on recommendations of a 2004 World Bank review of logging concessions granted on their land.
Says Kemaru, "We are here to protest the total disrespect of Turama Forest Industries and their logging agreement with our people. The company has abused our sacred sites, polluted our river, logged too close to our villages, made our food resources scarce and is withholding payments of royalties."
Australia and New Zealand can share the blame
Australia imports around $400 million worth of illegal timber products annually. Illegal rainforest timber imports fuel climate change, rainforest destruction and corruption. The Rudd Government must live up to its election promise and urgently restrict illegal and destructive timber imports.
While Kiwi consumers are beginning to wake up and are refusing to buy wood from PNG and Indonesia, the New Zealand government continues to drag its feet around halting the import of illegal and destructive wood.
View images of the Esperanza's arrival in PNG on August 25
Please send this email to Jim Anderton, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, asking the New Zealand Government to STOP the importation of illegally logged timber from ancient forests.
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