The Governor for Oro Province, Mr. Gary Juffa has recommended for more Civil Society Organizations particularly the Provincial Governments to partner with the National Government to cooperate and introduce practical and sustainable practices to protect Papua New Guinea’s forest resources and the rights of customary landowners.
Juffa is adamant that the current systems in place don’t function as they should and this is why such CSO-government partnerships are important.
He further mentioned that logging companies are bypassing proper processes and procedures to start up and conduct their activities.
“If you go to places where there is logging activities, there are instances where logging companies’ permits and licenses are not secured through lawful processes,” the Governor stated.
Governor Juffa criticized the reformed Forestry Act, stating that the Government at that time, intended to centralize the process of issuing logging permits and licenses thus taking powers away from the provincial government and ultimately, the customary landowners.
Mr Juffa revealed that logging companies in Oro Province are operating in a criminal cartel-like fashion and further mentioned that the province is struggling to fight these characters with very limited resources.
“The three (3) logging companies that are currently operating in my province were never endorsed by the current provincial government.”
“My provincial government works as a partner with the Centre for Environmental Law & Community Rights (CELCOR) to ensure that there is government compliance in the forest industry,” said Governor Juffa.
“As long as I am the Governor, I will continue to finance CELCOR so that they can represent our customary landowners,” Juffa added.
CELCOR as an independent organization is also responsible for keeping the Provincial Government in check, particularly with forest management in the country.
The Oro Governor also recommended for the National Government to introduce positive, sustainable alternatives to logging and deforestation and engage in agricultural projects that will benefit the customary landowners, while also calling on other governors in the country to partner with CSOs like CELCOR to protect forest resources.
The governor was speaking at the Civil Society Forestry Workshop held at Don Bosco Technological Institute from the 16th – 18th of August 2021.
The workshop was organized by the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR), Forest for Certain; Forest for Life (FORCERT) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in partnership with USAID Lukautim Graun Project.