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Agreement with Papua New Guinea against illegal logging

Australia and Papua New Guinea have formally agreed to join forces to tackle illegal logging, with an agreement signed at the Australia Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forums in Brisbane today.

After months of detailed negotiations, Australian Minister for Agriculture Tony Burke and Papua New Guinea (PNG) Minister for Forests Belden Namah signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

The decision to develop the agreement was made made when the ministers met in Port Moresby in August.

It is the second formal agreement on illegal logging between the Rudd Government and a key regional partner. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Indonesia in November 2008.

Discussions are also continuing with China on the traceability of forest products which have been processed and manufactured in China.

Mr Burke said to successfully fight illegal logging, it was essential to first identify which timber has been logged legally, through agreements with other nations.

As part of today’s agreement, Australia and Papua New Guinea indicated they would
- work more closely together on sustainable forest management and the certification of forests
- promote improved trade, investment and sustainable development that includes improvements in verifying the legal origins of timber and timber products
- identify ways to support future growth in the forest industries of both countries
- look at opportunities for closer collaboration on forest research
- consider areas for cooperation through multilateral fora to promote sustainable forest management, certification and combat illegal logging
- identify areas for cooperation on climate change mitigation approaches and adaptation through the improved use of forests.

Mr Burke said today’s agreement with Papua New Guinea was another step forward in efforts to fight illegal logging and promote sustainable timber products.

“I wish the groundwork for this had begun years ago, but in less than two years the Rudd Government has put much of the framework in place to fight illegal logging,” he said.

“Every forestry worker in Australia knows that illegal logging is a direct threat to local jobs.

“That’s why we’re determined to get this right.

“Illegal logging can only be successfully tackled if the nations involved in the processing and manufacturing of timber products also participate in verification and certification.

“That’s why Australia is continuing to negotiate an agreement with China which would allow the traceability of wood products.”

by S. C.
13 june 2009, World News > Oceania