International activist group Greenpeace appears to have abandoned its fight against the PNG forestry industry. The organisation has been silent on PNG for almost four years.
As reported in this newsletter, Greenpeace closed down its PNG-based operations some time before late-2014, selling its office and dismissing local staff. The PNG contact details were removed from Greenpeace websites, and it was understood that Greenpeace Australia Pacific was to manage PNG activities. From that time forward, there have been a total of zero Greenpeace initiatives in PNG.
This abrupt end came after a 17-year campaign against commercial forestry and agriculture in PNG. Greenpeace predicted that PNG’s forests would vanish by the year 2014. In 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organisation reported that PNG’s total forest cover was close to 80%.
The most recent PNG content on Greenpeace’s website promotes an eco-forestry project in East New Britain, suggesting that such projects are better for communities than commercial forestry or agriculture. The story is from 2013, and strangely, Greenpeace itself does not seem to have been involved in the eco-forestry program, so it is unclear why the initiative is featured.
Greenpeace’s global anti-forestry campaign now seems to be limited to anti-palm oil efforts. The Greenpeace Australia Pacific website still includes old content related to the “protect paradise” campaign to save the Sumatran tiger, but even this initiative may have been discontinued. The website protectparadise.org – which is featured on a page including testimonials from Hollywood actors about the evils of Indonesian agriculture – simply links to a page offering the domain name for sale.
It could be deduced from all of this that Greenpeace has made a decision to largely ignore the issue of tropical forestry, or that – more likely – donors have ceased to support the campaign in favour of other causes. This is for the best; Greenpeace’s 17-year campaign against rural development was based on spurious evidence and erroneous predictions.
PNG’s forest estate is extensive, and is being sustainably managed. Selective logging and planned conversion for agriculture are national development priorities, and provide incomes for communities throughout the country. Greenpeace’s decision to drop its ill-advised campaign is a welcome one.