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Between 2000 and 2005, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government commissioned five separate reviews of the administration and practice of the logging industry:
- Review of Forest Harvesting Projects Being Developed Towards a Timber Permit or Timber Authority (2000-01);
- Review of the Forest Revenue System (2001-02);
- Independent Review of Disputed Timber Permits and Permit Extensions (2003);
- Review of Current Logging Projects (2004-05); and
- Compliance Audits (2004-05)
The five Reviews were initiated in response to a widely held view that forest management in Papua New Guinea was not providing long-term benefits to the country or its citizens and to assess the implementation and effectiveness of the new governance regime introduced in the PNG Forestry Act of 1991.
The Reviews were conducted under Terms of Reference agreed upon between the Government of Papua New Guinea and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the ‘World Bank’), by teams of experts that included lawyers, foresters, economists and environmental and social scientists. The review teams were given unique access to official records, logging sites and company documents and were able to conduct wide-ranging interviews with industry participants landowners and government officials.
The findings of the five government-initiated Reviews were presented in sixty-three individual reports that together provide a unique assessment of Papua New Guinea’s forest administration system and the sustainability of current and future large-scale logging operations. They provide a thorough examination of the whole timber harvesting process from initial project development through permit allocation to the actual logging operations and their long term impacts. The Reviews considered a range of different criteria for assessing the status of timber harvesting operations and analysed their impact from the perspective of all the key stakeholders.
Of the five Reviews, only some of the reports were made publicly available – through the PNG Prime Minister’s website. Copies of the other documents produced were circulated amongst government departments, industry and civil society organisations in PNG and subsequently distributed internationally.
In 2009 Forest Trends published two reports based on the review findings:
Volume 1 summarizes the key findings of the five Reviews to present a clear and concise picture of the legal status, environmental sustainability and social impacts of current large-scale logging operations in PNG.
Volume 2 summarizes the reports in each of the five Reviews. It provides a complete summary of the findings together with a commentary on the 2003 report from an Ombudsman Commission Investigation into a controversial allocation of forest harvesting rights.