What a tragedy!

March 1, 2010 at 1:42 am (PNG) (, , )

Logging ‘destroying PNG’: Ex-missionary

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Published Date: March 1, 2010

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Environmental vandalism by loggers in Papua New Guinea is destroying the nation and its people, according to former Australian missionary, Br Jim Coucher.

Br Coucher worked in and near Vanimo on the north-west coast of PNG for 43 years until five years ago. The Age reports. Just returned from his first visit since, he was utterly horrified at the changes, he said, the speed of destruction caused by logging and corruption, and the plight of the local people.

”I don’t think anyone has an idea of the extent of logging, and I don’t think anything can be done,” Br Coucher said. He does not want his religious order identified for fear of reprisals against members still working in Papua New Guinea.

A PNG landowner now living in Australia said that loggers came on to his land without consultation or compensation, and stockpiled logs there. The landowner, a sub-clan chief, said loggers destroyed a creek that had provided fish for his villagers.

”Malnutrition is rampant. It is horrible to see young mothers who are skin and bone. There is no sanitation, no running water – it is a time bomb,” the landowner said. ”They are logging Vanimo to its death.”

Br Coucher said the villagers were worse off than 20 years ago, because the logging companies and the government don’t put anything back.

Soldiers and police guard the logging camps under corrupt arrangements, prostitution and AIDS had become rife, and people could not support their families, he said. Logging practices by Malaysian companies in PNG have long been of international concern, but Br Coucher said matters were much worse in Vanimo and Sandaun Province because it was so remote.

”At first they welcome the loggers because they think it might mean money, but in fact they get very little out of it. The loggers don’t do any replanting or clearing up at all … and they give no benefits to the people. They use bulldozers to drag the logs, which creates all sorts of problems with erosion.”

In all the years the loggers had been in Sandaun there had been no development, Br Coucher said, except for some work by AusAid on a hospital and putting bitumen on the road.

SOURCE

Rampant logging ‘destroying PNG’ (The Age)

PHOTO

http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenpeace_esperanza/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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