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Forests of Papua New Guinea

Causes of deforestation in Papua New Guinea

A simple response to the reasons behind the increase in logging is money.

Both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, support Papua New Guinea's log export trade. The loans given to PNG make it vulnerable for large international investors who wish to profit from the industry. Despite the IMF and World Bank's denials, they are one of the causes of forest loss in PNG, by implication.

Another IMF related scheme is the user-pays principle. This involves those people living in rainforest areas having to pay school and hospital fees. Evidence shows that this cost leads to the people having to sell land and timber rights just to educate their children.

The IMF has suggested a smaller, more compact PNG Government and this was achieved through cutting certain departments as well as linked regulating agencies. Sadly one such department was the Department of Environment and Conservation, which meant the government could not effectively act to control environmental problems and logging.

A driving force behind the export of logs is PNG's weak currency (kina), partly due to lack of confidence by investors in the erratic government structure and partly due to World Bank and IMF policy which insists that countries allow their currencies to float on the market. Small countries like Papua New Guinea then lose control of their currency and become desperate to sell their raw materials, regardless of price or wider impact.

The Papua New Guinea Forest Authority subsidises the logging industry through purchasing timber rights from local, sometimes uninformed landowners and passing this land on to those companies wishing to purchase land for logging purposes.

There is a huge demand for unprocessed logs from Asian markets. Most countries tend to produce their logs domestically, but instead Asia purchases from PNG who is the world's fifth largest producer of tropical logs.

Evidence shows that most of the population of PNG are desperate for change. The corrupt sometimes hidden world of the logging trade, together with the breakdown in forest sector management, makes it difficult for New Guineans to have a real say.

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