Pacific plunder Lush forests laid to waste - how Pacific Islands got hooked on logging

by Josh Nicholas and Kate Lyons

31 May 2021

Papua New Guinea, the largest exporter of wood products in the Pacific, exported 3.3m tonnes of wood – equivalent to 326 Eiffel Towers – in 2019, a haul worth US$690m – 90% of these logs are exported to China. India, the next largest destination, takes just 4% of Papua New Guinea’s logs by weight.

But even as forests are decimated, Pacific countries are often not receiving the full value of their resources. For decades the entire forestry industry in Papua New Guinea has declared just a few million dollars in profit each year on hundreds of millions in revenue. An investigation by the Oakland Institute found that some timber companies had, over decades, reported losing $15 for every dollar in declared profits.

Across the Solomon Sea, a striking example of the cost of logging is seen in the village of Naórua on the island of Malaita in Solomon Islands.

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