THE Papua New Guinea Forest Authority (PNGFA) was established in 1993 under the 1991 Forestry Act replacing the former Department of Forest, and unifying all Provincial Forest Divisions and the Forest Industries Council. All these came about as a result of the 1989 Barnett Commission of Inquiry into aspects of the forestry industry.
The PNGFA, with its headquarters at Hohola in the National Capital District, has 19 provincial offices which include five regional offices. It has over 386 permanent employees throughout the country that includes foresters as well as non–foresters such as economists, lawyers and accountants. The Authority also has about 300 casuals that include labourers, cleaners and drivers.
The PNGFA mission statement is in harmony with the country’s constitution and aims to: “Promote the management and wise utilization of the forest resources of Papua New Guinea as a renewable asset for the well- being of present and future generations”.
The Authority’s main objective therefore is working towards achieving sustainable forest management in Papua New Guinea.
The current Forestry Act provides that all relevant stakeholders must participate in the harvesting and management of the national forest resource. Forestry functions in many ways are decentralized wherein; the respective Provincial Forest Management Committees established under the provision of the Forestry Act make decisions relating to the management of the forest resource. There are three (3) key arms of the PNGFA namely:
1. National Forest Board
The prime role of the Board is to advise the Minister for Forests on forest policies and legislations and give directions to the National Forest Service through the Managing Director consistent with the objectives of achieving sustainable forest management. Some of the functions and powers of the Board have been delegated to the Managing Director to ensure smooth flow of operations at project and industry levels. The Board is made up of major stakeholders of the forestry sector namely national and provincial governments, landowners, NGOs, Chamber of Commerce and Industries and the National Council of Women.
2. Provincial Forest Management Committee
These committees were established for each of the provinces and again comprise of major stakeholders. Their role is to provide a forum for consultation and coordination on forest management between national and provincial governments and recommend to the National Forest Board on matters regarding forestry related activities in the respective provinces.
3. The National Forest Service (NFS)
The NFS is the operational or implementing arm of the PNG Forest Authority, which is headed by the Managing Director and comprises of various Directorates.
The PNGFA Headquarters is made up of the Office of the Managing Director and five directorates. They are Corporate Services, Forest Policy & Planning, Project Allocation, Forest Development and Field Services which the five regional offices of Momase, Southern, New Guinea Islands, West New Britain and Highlands report to.
The Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute (PNGFRI) located in Lae, Morobe Province is part of the Papua New Guinea Forest Authority and is treated as a directorate also.
PNGFA’s Core Objectives:
The Authority pursues the following objectives, as mandated by the Forestry Act 1991 (as amended):
• The management, development and protection of the Nation’s forest resources and environment in such a way as to conserve and renew them as an asset for succeeding generations;
• The maximization of Papua New Guinea participation in the wise use and development of the forest resources as a renewable asset;
• The utilization of the nation’s forest resources to achieve economic growth, employment creation and industrial and increased “down-stream” processing of the forest resources;
• The encouragement of scientific study and research into forest resources so as to contribute towards a sound ecological balance, consistent with the National development objectives;
• The increased acquisition and dissemination of skills, knowledge and information in forestry through education and training;
• the pursuit of effective strategies, including improved administrative and legal machinery, for managing forest resources and the management of national, provincial and local interests.
Core functions are:
The Authority undertakes the following functions, as mandated by the Forestry Act 1991 (as amended):
• To provide advice to the Minister on forest policies and legislation pertaining to forestry matters;
• To prepare and review the National Forest Plan and recommend it to the National Executive Council for approval;
• Through the Managing Director, to direct and supervise the National Forest Service;
• To negotiate Forest Management Agreements;
• To select operators and negotiate conditions on which timber permits, timber authorities and licenses may be granted in accordance with the provisions of this Act;
• To control and regulate the export of forest produce;
• To oversee the administration and enforcement of this Act and any other legislation pertaining to forestry matters, and of such forestry policy as is approved by the National Executive Council;
• To undertake the evaluation and registration of persons desiring to participate in any aspect of the forestry industry;
• To act as agent for the State, as required, in relation to any international agreement relating to forestry matters;
• To carry out such other functions as are necessary to achieve its objectives or as are given to it under this Act or any other law.
Progress towards achieving Sustainable Forest Management in PNG
· There have been a lot of achievements in the forestry sector as a result of the reform PNGFA has gone through. Listed below are some of the notable achievements over the last 15 years:
· A new National Forest Policy was formulated in 1990 to remedy the short-comings of the previous policy of 1979 and to address the recommendations of the Barnett Inquiry and place emphasis on sustainable forest management principles in the forestry sector.
· A new Forestry Act was enacted by Parliament replacing three previous legislations on forestry matters that came into force in June 1992.
· Various amendments have been made to sections of the Forestry Act to ensure transparency and accountability in the management and utilization of the nation’s forest resources. This took place in 1996, 2000, 2005 and 2007.
· The writing of the 1996 Forestry Regulation which provides the legal status for the implementation of many of the requirements specified under the Forestry Act;
· Establishment and operation of the PNG Forest Authority that came into effect in October 1993;
· Formulation and approval of the National Forest Development Guidelines in 1993;
· Establishment of the National Forest Board;
· Establishment of the Provincial Forest Management Committees;
· Forest Management Agreements for acquiring timber rights from customary owners superseding the previous Timber Rights Purchase and Local Forest Declaration methods of acquiring timber rights from customary owners;
· Drafting and finalizing of the Manual for the Incorporation of Land Groups to identify legitimate landowners of forest resources;
· Drafting and finalizing of the Logging Code of Practice to effectively control and monitor harvesting of the forest resource;
· Engagement of Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS), a Swiss Surveillance Company to monitor log export operations, thus preventing undervaluing and misidentification of species and pricing and avoidance of customs duties. This project is proving to be a great success and is saving the country millions of kina;
· Formulation, approval and implementation of the National Forest Plan. The plan serves as the guiding principle for orderly forest development in PNG;
Provincial forest activities undertaken in accordance with the approval of respective provincial forest plans;
· A number of organizational restructure have taken place here over the last 15 years of being a corporate body. The recent one being 2007 which is being rolled out. The aim of this restructure is to redirect, refocus to improve efficiency and productivity within the PNGFA; and
· Emerging issues such as climate change is given prominence by the PNGFA as it relates very much to forestry. It is now a whole of government approach to address mitigation and adaptation measures on climate change.