Degree Name

Master of Laws


Faculty of Law


Papua New Guinea (PNG) has a total land area of 463,000 km2 and a population of just over 4 million people. Seventy seven percent of its land mass is covered by tropical rainforest which represents about 1.5% of the world's tropical rainforests. The forest consists of more than 2,000 species of trees of which 400 species are of commercial value. In 1979, it was estimated that 15 million hectares of forest was accessible and viable for commercial development. A recent study in 1992 by die Australian International Development Assistance Bureau (AIDAB), estimates that only 7 million hectares is available for commercial utilisation.

This thesis analyses the historical development of forestry legislation and policy in PNG. The analysis will show that resource owners have been the main losers both economically and environmentally in the exploitation of the forests. The authors of past and present forestry legislation and policies claimed that these instruments were geared towards the equitable distribution of benefits from the development of the forestry resources. However, in real terms, only a handful of people and multinational companies have benefited from the utilisation of forestry resources.

It will be argued that the forestry resources in PNG have not been managed with the view to achieving sustainable utilisation of the forestry resources for the benefit of present and future generations. The thesis calls for a rethink of current forestry legislation and policies.