03/04/2006, 00.00
PAPUA NEW GUINEA – CHINA
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Papua New Guinea forests risk imminent extinction

Illegal timber logging, geared towards supplying China, Japan and Korea, destroys more than 250,000 hectares of forest per year. Entire species are in danger. Without timely intervention, the global climate could be shaken.

Singapore (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Illegal logging taking place unchecked in the forests of Papua New Guinea is destroying entire ecosystems, according to a study undertaken by a US group, Forest Trends (FT), which based its conclusions on 63 reports written between 2000 and 2005 by the World Bank and the government of Papua New Guinea.

The report said these activities are undertaken without regard for the law, and thanks to the authorities' corruption and lack of monitoring. Logging takes place without concern for preserving the environment, so that entire forests have been "swept away".

The sector is dominated by Malaysian-owned companies which export timber to Japan, South Korea and especially to China, where most of the wood is processed and then sent to Europe and the United States.

Michael Jenkins, chairman of FT, said: "China should take on a global leadership role", in line with its role as major buyer, and it should take initiatives to encourage conservation of the environment: for example, guaranteeing that all timber used for preparation of the Olympic Games comes from legal sources. China is now careful to preserve its own forests, but it stands accused of buying large quantities of timber from illegal sources from the Pacific region, as well as Africa and South America.

The environment group Greenpeace, says illegal logging destroys more than 250,000 hectares of forest each year, in an area where less than 1% of the rain forests are protected from commercial exploitation. Steve Shallhorn, chief executive of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said: "Unless action to stop destructive logging is taken, species will become extinct, rainfall patterns will be disrupted and the global climate will change even faster than it is now."

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