Malaysian transnational company Rimbunan Hijau (RH) is believed to control the majority of logging operations in PNG.

The company has attracted considerable controversy over allegations of unsustainable logging practices, illegal logging, environmental and human rights abuses and corruption.

Despite these many controversies Rimbunan Hijau has been able to develop its own timber certification scheme in alliance with Swiss company SGS. The Timber Legality and Traceability Verification Scheme (TLTV) is being used to 'certify' Rimbunan Hijau logging operations as 'legal' despite their many obvious flaws. A copy of the draft TLTV standard and the first verification report can be downloaded below. 

Controversy

Illegal logging

The PNG Eco-Forestry Forum has two court injunctions in place preventing RH from logging over a million hectares of forest in Western Province, which the Forum says has been unlawfully allocated to RH.

In 2006, Forests Trends published a summary of five separate government commissioned reviews of the forest industry conducted between 2000 and 2005. That summary found that:

The overriding conclusion from the Government of Papua New Guinea’s own forestry review process, however, is that although all timber harvesting operations may be officially licensed, there are serious issues of legal non-compliance at almost every stage in the development and management of these projects. For these reasons the majority of forestry operations cannot credibly be characterized as complying with national laws and regulations and are therefore ‘unlawful.’

The Forest Trends report can be downloaded as a pdf file below

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Logging Legality and Livelihoods Volume 1.pdf2.05 MB

Unsustainable logging

In 2007 the PNG government invited an International Tropical Timber Organisation review of logging operations. The reviews findings were devastating:

The general conclusion of this “Diagnostic Mission” is that PNG has many solid acts, laws and legislation in place, but implementation is problematic due primarily to administrative and governance constraints and intervention. The government and industry have not been able to demonstrate integrated, economically viable, ecologically compatible and socially acceptable forest management practices in line with the ITTO Criteria and Indicators. Forest management is reduced to monitoring logging operations at the expense of overall Sustainable Forest Management. 
The environmental impacts of timber harvesting decisions and operations are poorly addressed and the regulatory framework is not being enforced due to inefficient collaborative efforts of PNG Forest Authority and DEC in field monitoring and control. The landowners constantly complain about lack of involvement in all government decision making processes related to forestry. 

A copy of the Executive Summary from the ITTO review can be downloaded below as a pdf file

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ACHIEVING THE ITTO OBJECTIVE 2000 in PNG.pdf179.11 KB

Corruption and violence

 In 2004, an SBS television documentary – Jungle Justice – alleged a culture of violence and cover-ups in Rimbunan Hijau’s logging camps (the SBS flyer for the program can be downloaded below).

In the same year, Greenpeace published a report on Rimbunan Hijau titled, The Untouchables: Rimbunan Hijau’s world of forest crime and political patronage (pdf file can be downloaded below)

From 2002 until 2007 the masalai itokaut (forest spirit speaks) website provided a regular diet of insiders tales of corruption and mismanagement in the PNG forest industry

In 2001 an SBS television documentary – Wilderness laid waste by Corruption – detailed allegations of corruption and violence involving Rimbunan Hijau logging operations (the transcript can be downloaded below as a pdf file)

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News

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The National

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Forests dying in decades

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Illegal loggers nailed

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Labor to crack down on illegal timber

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Judge finds logging company threatened newspaper

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ABC radio