Illegal and unsustainable logging

Illegal and unsustainable logging by foreign companies is widespread in PNG.

The logging displaces village communities, causes widespread environmental damage and social problems, creates confict and destroys sustainable livelihoods.

Foreign, mainly Malaysian, logging companies harvest and export over 3 million cubic metres of raw logs every year, mainly to China. The government licenses most of the logging operations but they are widely regarded as illegal, as summarized in a 2014 report from Chatham House, Illegal Logging in Papua New Guinea [pdf file]:

“Illegal practices are widespread, and the weight of available information (including independent reviews commissioned by the government, and the views of private sector experts surveyed by Chatham House) suggests that the majority of timber production in PNG is illegal in some way”. 

“The types of illegality recorded include: licences being issued or extended in breach of regulations (especially those relating to consultation with indigenous landowners); extensive breaches of harvesting regulations by concessionaires; and, most recently, the abuse of licences for clear-felling forest for commercial agricultural plantations”. 

The illegal nature of the logging, its environmental impacts and the lack of sustainability have been recorded in numerous reports dating back over the last fifteen years1.

In July 2006 the British High Commissioner to PNG, David Gordon-MacLeod, noted:

“There is substantial evidence from independent sources that current levels of logging (in PNG) are unsustainable, the legality of many current concessions is in doubt, corruption is a growing problem in the sector… and there are human rights abuses of forest communities and local labour”.

Although the government is fully aware of the illegal nature of the logging no action has been taken to protect the rights of customary landowners. This itself breaches a number of further fundamental human rights. 


1. PNG Government review of current logging operations, 2004 -
PNG Government review of disputed permits and extensions, 2004 - 
ITTO Diagnostic Mission Report, 2007 -
Overseas Development Institute, 2007 -
Forest Trends, 2009 -
Transparency International, 2009 -
Greenpeace, 2004, 2010, 2012 -