Having walked through the pristine forests of the Alexandria Ranges next door...it will be sad to loose the rainforests. With it people loose biodiversity, traditional medicine, hunting grounds and food. It may also introduce environmental issues with soil erosion, fertilisers and refinery waste products contaminating water streams on which people rely (as in WNBP) unless there are environmental management plans in place - as are applicable any with resource type projects...and I think should be enforceable in this case also. I agree with Paul - the trees will be cut down faster than they are replaced... Is the deforestation staged.. or all in one go?
The govt. has not even had a chance to develop national protected areas maps - based on the conservation values of preserving..yet.. was the ok given with conditions e.g. restricted areas? This would have to be against Department of Environment & Conservation Sustainable Environment Program visions and REDD+ targets and international commitments also..
Also coming from Oil palm family.. and hearing complaints first hand on the extent and rate of logging in WNBP and little new infrastructure development in existing communities (after over 10 years) despite the collective efforts of new communities e.g. to bring power by paying for their own power poles and still seeing nothing nor new opportunities (spin off benefits?) for the following generations...
How many PNG people are employed by the West Sepik projects?
Those communities in WNBP have however seen development - through nucelous estate communities... but also consider these were settlement communities as the local indigenous populations were nomadic and thus could not effectively have claim to blocks of land and probably did not benefit from a lot of the development... thus also consider the potential social breakdown impacts of existing people.. with disconnect of land..and traditional land markers (stones, paths streams etc). Which land owners have signed away their people's land and for how much - were they made aware of risks vs benefits and their rights?
What rigour has been done in terms of planning and costing in terms of sustainable community development? Good intentions to vs. effective implementation are two different things. Has any consideration been put into the potential for other industries e.g. sago industries, vanilla, cocoa and fishing.. would this impact the potential for these industries?
Has there been any public consultation on the issue???
I would like to see the proposal that claims development benefits and the sustainable implementation commitments and associated cost benefit analysis rigour behind this proposal... The government is totally forgoing an income generating stream...that could be used for other initiatives in the local areas? To me that is crazy. Better to get some income and use the money to support development initiatives e.g. medical centres and schools rather than leaving it at the total directive (and timing) of a private foreign owned company.
To me this seems a green light for unsustainable logging under the veil of Oil Palm Development.... If that is true - it will marginalise the local people and introduce more problems that solutions in the long term.
What about considering other income generating options and then presenting the best case.. What about Sago based industries? In Sepik they already grow Cocoa and Vanilla...? .. I don't like the way this sounds..