Teak planted in Somare Compartment

Staff of the National Forest Service in Port Moresby have planted over 1500 teak stumps in honour of the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare.

The stumps were planted in mid-March, during the commemoration of the annual United Nations sanctioned International Day of Forests held at Kuriva Forestry Plantation, an hour’s drive out of Port Moresby.

The Forestry sector takes its hat off to the Grand Chief who, during his term as Prime Minister, led international talks which greatly progressed forestry and climate change initiatives.

In 2002, the Somare-led Government introduced the Export Driven Recovery Strategy to resurrect the ailing economy.

Resources sectors including forestry were directed to identify impact projects. Forestry named ten, of which seven are currently operational.

Late Sir Michael is the patron of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), and fosters conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

In 2005, through his leadership, PNG was one of the first countries in the world to combat climate change.

A speech he gave in Columbia University in New York in 2005 resulted in the tropical rainforest nations forming the "Coalition of Rain Forests Nations" (CoRFN) at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

CoRFN ensured PNG, with the support of Costa Rica, hit the world stage when it got standing ovation from over 15,000 delegates from 200 plus nations when its agenda “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries to Stimulate Action" (RED) at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 11) was pushed through.

The Late Grand Chief became known as the pioneering or founding leader of rainforest nations as a result of this.

In 2006, his leadership resulted in the establishment of the National Land Development Task Force following the National Land Summit in August 2005.

In March 2009, late Sir Michael’s government ensured that two acts were passed, namely Land Groups Incorporation (Amendment) Act, 2009 and Land Registration (Customary Land) (Amendment) Act 2009.

These legislative changes positively impacted on forest resource development, especially in guaranteeing resource security and ownership, including enhancing security of private-sector investment, not only in forestry but all sectors of the economy.

In 2007, the PNG government hosted the 42nd session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC) session in Port Moresby, which was opened by the Grand Chief.

It was the first ever ITTC Session hosted by PNG in its 33-year history of membership to the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).

In 2008, still under the late Sir Michael’s leadership, landowner monetary benefits relating to royalties was increased based on species grouping.

The establishment of the Somare Compartment in Kuriva Forestry Plantation in Central Province is the PNG Forest Authority’s token of appreciation for late Sir Michael’s great assistance to the forestry sector.

Photo courtesy: PNGFA

Press release