Debate about ANZ funding of logging in PNG continues

Paupua New Guinea Forest Each year Papua New Guinea loses an area of old-growth forest about the size of the Australian Capital Territory. Much of this devastating deforestation is caused by logging companies such as Malaysian-based company Rimbunan Hijau which controls at least half of Papua New Guinea’s forestry sector.

ANZ is the bank that funds Rimbunan Hijau’s activities. All this means that the debate between conservationists and ANZ continues to simmer along. In June ANZ said it was aware of concerns about the practices of its client, Rimbunan Hijau (RH). It said [links to pdf file]:

“RH has refuted claims of illegal logging activity in discussions with ANZ. The PNG Government has also provided ANZ with written assurances that the logging activities of RH are legal and comply with Papua New Guinea’s Logging Code.”

Meanwhile the Australian Conservation Foundation says:

“The activities of Rimbunan Hijau have been found by numerous government, World Bank and other inquiries to involve breaches of legal requirements, serious human rights abuses, environmental destruction and shocking conditions for local workers. ANZ defends these investments on the basis that Rimbunan Hijau and the PNG Forestry Authority have assured them that the logging operations are legal – but they’ve ignored a string of independent enquiries that show otherwise”

ANZ replies that:

“Stakeholder concerns about whether the activities of the PNG timber industry are legal will now be addressed by an independent assessment process.”

However it also says:

“RH is playing a leading role in the development of this process.”

and:

“…we will continue to work with RH on future voluntary initiatives.”

None of which will placate those people who charge Rimbunan with activities such as paying police to brutally assault those who speak out against its logging practices.

(thanks to kahunapulej for the photo)

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