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Most Papua New Guineans want 'development', to improve their income, education and health... But what kind of 'development' and at what price to their future?

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Foreign companies - that have exhausted their own resources - have targeted Papua New Guinea and its lush, accessible forests that are rich in timber and resources.

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At current levels, by 2021, 83% of the nation's commercially accessible forests will have been cleared or severely degraded.

2011

2021

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Deforestation not only affects direct use of forested areas but also causes erosion, pollution of waterways and loss of soil fertility.

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Companies motivated by greed and easy profits are taking advantage of the corruption that is rife within the Papua New Guinea government*

* Papua New Guinea is consistently rated as one of the world's most corrupt countries by Transparency International.
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Benefits promised to locals such as employment opportunities, services and improvements to infrastructure are not being delivered. The only money spent on infrastructure is instead to enable logging operations.

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Salaries and working conditions for those that do gain employment are generally very poor and have been officially described in one project as 'modern day slavery'.

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SABLs (Special Agriculture and Business Lease)

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97% of PNG is customary owned land that cannot be bought or sold.

SABLs were originally intended to promote local agricultural development.

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An incorporated land group (collection of traditional landowners) hands the land over to the State, then leases it back as a tradeable asset to provide collateral for development.

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In recent years the SABL has been used as the basis of a massive land grab that has seen around 11% of land in PNG alienated from its traditional owners.

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75% of SABLs are controlled by foreign-owned companies – the majority of which are Australian or Malaysian.

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The majority of felled logs are exported to China. There they are processed for eventual consumption in Europe or North America.

More on SABLs here.