Press release / Jan. 16, 2018

Global Witness awarded funding from People’s Postcode Lottery to support vital work preserving one of the world’s last major rainforests in Papua New Guinea

People’s Postcode Lottery has today announced that players have awarded Global Witness £250,000 to support the delivery of its work seeking to preserve and protect one of the world’s last major rainforests in Papua New Guinea.

Since 2014, Global Witness has worked with local communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to advocate for their legal rights and protect their critically important rainforest – the third-largest tropical rainforest left on Earth. PNG’s forests are vital to the daily lives and cultural traditions of its people, most of whom rely directly on their land for their livelihoods. The same ecosystems support hundreds of species, including tree kangaroos and birds of paradise, that live nowhere else on earth.

PNG’s forests are under significant threat from foreign-backed companies clearing them for logging and crops including palm oil. Despite the many promises made by the Government of Papua New Guinea to uphold the law and protect its citizens’ rights to their own land, it has handed over more than 12% of the country to logging companies.

The rainforests cover four times the size of Scotland (33 million ha, 127,400 square miles). One of their crucial services is their capacity to slow climate change by absorbing CO2 released from the burning of fossil fuels. 

In 2017, Global Witness released a report, Stained Trade, documenting how a third of the timber coming from PNG in recent years involved now-illegal logging practices  on land that many local people say was stolen from them, in violation of rights guaranteed under PNG law.

This funding from People’s Postcode Lottery will allow Global Witness to document and share the story of life within ‘the lungs of the planet’ – the Papua New Guinea rainforest – with a new audience.

Gillian Caldwell, Global Witness Chief Executive, said: “People can’t protect what they can’t see. Thanks to the generosity of the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Global Witness will be able to send investigators and cameras into the depths of one of the most beautiful – and most significant – rainforests in the world. This grant will enable us to bring a renewed vigour to our campaign to protect this forest and uphold the rights of the people who live in this magnificent area, reaching out to new audiences to tell the stories of the communities who live there and the wildlife and biodiversity that surrounds them.”

The funding will also help Global Witness to document other ways in which corrupt and illegal exploitation of PNG’s forests impacts local people and their environment.

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “I am proud that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting this fantastic cause to protect the rainforest in Papa New Guinea. The support will allow Global Witness to reach a brand new audience and support the communities who live there.” 

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