in Papua New Guinea

PNG update: Logging, carbon trading and missing documents

A month ago, I wrote to the UN-REDD team in Papua New Guinea to ask, among other things, what has happened to the programme’s budget of US$2,596 million. I am still waiting for a reply. Last week, I sent a reminder, along with a new question about the PNG government’s investigation into the Office of Climate Change, the key documents of which, it seems, have disappeared.

[UPDATE: UNDP replied on 7 March 2010.]

REDD-Monitor’s email is below.

Meanwhile there have been several other recent developments in PNG. According to the website CarbonoWontok, Nupan has “severed all relationships with Carbon Planet Limited”. (CarbonoWontok┬« is the registered Trademark of NuPan (PNG and HK) Trading Corporation Limited.) There is no mention of this on Carbon Planet’s website. In fact, Carbon Planet appears to have removed all mention of Nupan from its website. Previously, Carbon Planet’s website stated that “Carbon Planet paid AU$1.2m in project finance to project developer Nupan Trading Corporation (PNG) Limited.” This reference to Nupan has now been replaced by the words “a project developer.” There’s a discussion about Nupan’s activities in PNG in a previous REDD-Monitor post.

The Post Courier reported on 15 February 2010 that, “A full scientific team from Australia, supported by hundreds of locals, will travel to the heart of the Kamula Doso forest in the Gulf Province this week.” The article is based on a post on the CarbonoWontok website dated 4 February 2010. Yet there is no acknowledgement in the Post Courier article that all of the information in the article comes from the project developer. The two articles are compared here (pdf file 70 KB).

Two days after running this article, the Post Courier published an article titled “Carbon trade hijacked“, which included the following statement from Jim Tame, a spokesperson of a group of local leaders:

“We the genuine landowners and leaders of East-Pangia local level government are seeking interpretation on the recent media propaganda on carbon trade in the area. We as landowners question that there has been some suspicious and fishy deals in the carbon trade.”

Yesterday, the Post Courier ran the photograph above on its front page, with the comment:

“WHO says no to carbon trading, certainly not this group of young men from the East Pangia area in Southern Highlands Province. Last week, these young men, armed with their axes and knives were out in their forest, helping a team of scientists from Nupan (PNG) Trading Corporation collect data to create a carbon trading project in Papua New Guinea.”

The Post Courier, it appears, is only capable of printing one side of a story at a time.

Australian Associated Press reports on the latest controversy generated by Kirk Roberts, the head of Nupan Trading:

“East Pangia, in PNG’s rugged Southern Highlands region, is the latest focus of various conflicting opinions that have flared as Mr Roberts promises what many villagers call ‘sky money’ – because he appears to be selling air.
PNG’s Forest Authority (FA) managing director Kanawi Pouru has taken out a newspaper advertisement reminding Mr Roberts and landowners that East Pangia has already been allocated for logging.”

This highlights a serious problem: Nupan appears to be promising income for local landowners through carbon trading, without addressing the fact that the forest is already allocated as a logging concession. In fact, vast areas of PNG have been allocated as logging concessions, as this map from the World Bank illustrates (click on the image for a larger version – pdf file 604 KB):


This highlights the real problem in PNG. While the government talks about REDD and reducing deforestation, it is doing little or nothing to actually reduce deforestation, thus creating the perfect environment for carbon cowboys. As long as UN-REDD and the other aid agencies operating in PNG fail to address this problem, they are complicit in creating Papua New Guinea’s REDD shambles. At the very least, the aid agencies need to be transparent about what they are doing to address the situation. UN-REDD could start by answering REDD-Monitor’s emails:

From: Chris Lang
To: Freddy Austli, David McLachlan-Karr, Jan Jilles Van Der Hoeven
Date: 15 February 2010 11:02
Subject Re: UN-REDD in PNG

Dear Freddy, David and Jan,

On 21 January 2010, as I’m sure you are aware, I posted our (somewhat one-sided) correspondence on REDD-Monitor. As I have still not heard from you in response to my questions (which I first sent more than one month ago), I am resending the previous correspondence about UN-REDD in Papua New Guinea. This lack of transparency is troubling, to say the least, and I would be grateful for a response to these questions.

In the meantime, I have one more question:

6. On her blog, Natasha Loder, a journalist with the Economist magazine, raises questions about the PNG government’s investigation into the Office of Climate Change. “Everyone has been waiting for the report from this committee,” she writes, “but it looks like it may never come. I understand that all the key documents have vanished.”

Could you please let me know what exactly has happened to the government’s investigation and when the committee will release its report. Is it true that “all the key documents have vanished”?

Loder suggests that the time has come for the aid agencies (for some reason, she doesn’t mention the UN-REDD programme) involved in REDD in PNG to “read PNG the riot act”:

    “It is time that the international donors, the Australians, the Norwegians, the British and the World Bank, read PNG the riot act: clean up, or we will move out. If the report never appears, and the previous head of the office of climate change is merely bumped on to a cosy job in some quiet corner somewhere, perhaps in the diplomatic service, then the donors need to be ready to walk away. The point about getting a good deal is that you have to be prepared to walk away if the other side isn’t playing by the rules. If there is no credible threat of a deal failing, then there is no chance of a credible deal.”

What action have UN-REDD and the other aid-agencies involved in REDD in PNG taken so far to ensure that a credible investigation of the Office of Climate Change is carried out? At what point will UN-REDD tell the PNG government to “clean up, or we will move out”?

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. Please consider your response to be on the record.

Regards, Chris Lang
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  1. I Timothy Tepi, Chairman of East Pangia Carbon Trade project who as been in court battle with Sate,Forests,Southern Highlands Provincial Government,Forests Board,Madang Timbers, for the past 8 years up until now.
    Our National Court orders as been null & void in early February 2014 but this does not STOP me to fight for my future generations to comes for many years to come to protect this beautiful forests which was been untouched by our forefathers but today under world bank mechanism under UNREDD+ schemes needs to carefully explain to us the concern indigenous people living with the forests for the last decays.
    For instance East Pangia FMA is mountainous and a lot of terrain for the logging to established and it will costs fortune for any interested logging companies for this project in Southern Highlands Province.
    Based on the above grounds I see that it is necessary for this project to go under Carbon Trade project as community based level projects proponents.
    The idea of Verified Carbon Standards is so clear for me such as a villager meaning No logging and all our forests will be preserve for many years to comes but the idea of UN-REDDor REDD+ I am really concern because this process is to log all our virgin forests and replant them with new trees,oil palm and agriculture.
    I for one is objection the idea of LOGGING in East Pangia FMA and I will still continue to fight to court until I null & void the Forests rights given away to state without proper consultation with the ILG’s for 50 years lease .
    Since I come up with the idea of preserving the forests I find out that our timber rights as been given to state and therefore I will FIGHT for peoples rights.
    I know since I am on court battle our credits are accumulated as HIGH demand for carbon trading but time will tell if this project will destroy by exploiters of hungry loggers or we the 95% ILG’s will win at the end to contribute to serve this world .
    East Pangia FMA is still under court battle by Carbon Group and Logging groups?
    I wants someone to give me the benefit of LOGGING and effect will cause to my people if logging comes into East Pangia FMA.
    Lastly NO,NO,NO ,LOGGING -Serve forests to fight against GLOBAL WARMING.

  2. @ Timothy Tepi,
    It has been 5 years since this post regarding the origination of your Forest Area to protect it from foreign loggers.
    It must be known that you are a true Environmental Warrior who has met all the challengers.
    Especially when your own Prime minister was in fact the Director and owner of the Madang Timbers the Asian Logging Company and the Director of the Environmental Ministry was Madang Timbers pay roll.
    It should be noted to all that your People of East Pangia have told the Prime minister who’s electorate is East Pangia that they do not want to log, but for some reason this Prime minister has obligations to Madang Timbers and prefers logging.
    For these reasons we believe your project area has been fully tested and has past any validation test.
    The world supports real People as your self and the East Pangia Incorporated land Groups.

  3. To win a fight over an ownership it has to be spearheaded by genuine people or a true custodians. In Timorhy Tepi’s carbon court battle ww saw a lots of flaws in his documents and 90% of the signatories were obtained under dubious circumstances and we have even send for a consultation meeting which felled on deaf hears. However even with logging the real people are left in the cold and others are trying to bulldoze whole process BUT we are n not fully done with that yet but are monitoring in silence. We have enough and fare ideas of a how RH’s operation in which Madang Timbers is subsidiary of and we will not even let Prime Minister, if your mentioned here is true but like we’ve said we are the ones should have been consulted properly. Our land is our life and we won’t let it exploited by unscrupulous persons with dubious intentions. East Pangia FMA is owned by 90% owned by illiterate villagers and that is their pot of gold.

  4. Douglas thank you so much for your comment and much appreciated in regards to my views of untouched Forests in East Pangia FMA area situated far of Southern Highlands Province in Papua New Guinea. However in recent comments made by Jack Noah Yamah is behind the 5% landowner groups pushing for Logging to happened in East Pangia FMA area.In fact Jack and his teams of landowner can bring the Logging together with Madang Timbers but our questions is this were are your forests.As we seeing you at your back yard we see that all your forests in a village call ALIA as being without forests now because of small scale of sawmilling and shift cultivation by the villages in the jungle and I ask you if you could support us because we have our forests intact and untouched since our ancestors until today.Our idea of not allowing logging is still stands as we lost our Supreme Court battle until may 2015.This does not STOP me but gain momentum to fight strong and as per the Supreme Court rulling if I appeal against the court rulling decisions done by Supreme Court and National Court removing our National Court Order restraining the Madang Timbers Os others that I and the entire 95% of landowner groups will pay for the costs and damages if I lost my appeal again.Therefore this as makes me hard time but I will make hard time on the ground level when we all are at the project site if Madang Timbers will bring logging into East Pangia FMA area.Jack Noah Yamah please leave this beautiful forests for future generations to comes in many years a long so what we are here talking is not about the land ownership but if you have problems regarding land ownership its best you talk with your 5% landowner groups of people but for me I am standing firm to protect the entire forest.
    Lastly we challenge you Jack Noah Yamah to come up to Pangia and advice us your stand regarding the benefits that LOGGING will give it to the resource owners.This time we are not in the stone age we are in the modern world now and kindly asking you not to make any comments regarding our side of protecting the Forests but its best you talk about your logging with Madang Timbers. Finally I must admit to you that without our concern you take the Madang Timbers and Forests officers doing forests survey map plan crossing our entire bundries this year around March but we forcefully went in and Destroy all the Camps and nearly your security Personal of Papua New Guinea royal constabulary teams terorise the landowners inside the jungle but somehow I advice our local Mp and Prime Minister Peter O’Niell ,Madang Director for National Forest Authority Mr Amos Goodwil to immediately removed them out of our bundries so eventually it as happened and no one on the ground now but we are in fear because its Government of the day so they can do anything under the sun to get rid off our virgin forests.
    I am happy to hear more comments or


    Firstly, I am so worried for my innocent silent majority living and occupying East Pangia Forest area. I could be a glad person or distress. My peoples’ birthrights were taken away and steep stopping foreign investments.

    Secondly, wordings that Timothy Tepi using for East Pangia Forests are bias and void in the eyes of silence majority. I don’t think you need our comment too because one way the other you are putting stop to investment in my forest. I have a virgin forest and, I am ready to get benefit from this, what are you really want to say about my forest? You mentioned that Alians owned 5% of forest, I don’t know how much Timothy Tepi own East Pangia Forest…No..No..No, stop gluttony to my forests.

    Thirdly, Carbon Trading is not a problem but problem is destroying of biodiversity and their ecosystem. We have a plan ahead to control them and for Environmental Investment and Credit Carbon Scheme, we also requesting fund from Climate Change and Development Authority to make agreement for carbon trade. That is possible, no others to stick on this forest please!!!