People against Foreign NGO Neocolonialism:  Unheard Rainforest

Conservation Voices from Papua New Guinea


Forest Networking a Project of Forests.org, Inc.

 http://forests.org/ -- Forest Conservation Portal

  http://www.EnvironmentalSustainability.info/ -- Eco-Portal

    http://www.ClimateArk.org/ -- Climate Change Portal

      http://www.WaterConserve.info/ -- Water Conservation Portal


April 7, 2003



Northern environmental conglomerates and their foundation

sponsors are not appreciably contributing to rainforest

conservation in Papua New Guinea, nor elsewhere.  In a remarkably

frank set of essays, People Against Foreign NGO Neocolonialism –

an anonymous group of environmental dissenters in Papua New

Guinea - states foreign conservation conglomerates "whitewash

effort to please donors so that the big bucks will keep flowing." 

They contradict claims that these groups have had any real

conservation impact.  This meshes with my experience. 


"With the help of willing donors such as AUS-AID, UNDP, The

MacArthur Foundation, and The Moore Foundation, any possibility

of achieving lasting conservation of PNG’s biodiversity is being

destroyed in the here and now...  The international conservation

NGOs in PNG are proving to be a model of how not to do either

conservation or development".  The well financed big-boys (the

piece below names WWF, Conservation International and The Nature

Conservancy for the sake of accuracy) are accused of having

caused "the atrophy of what would have been a natural evolution

of a truly indigenous conservation movement."  Corporate,

hierarchical models of conservation based upon outside foreign

experts – often with little in-country knowledge or concern –

threatens the World's rainforest as surely as logging,

agriculture, etc.


The authors of "People Against Foreign NGO Neocolonialism" wish

to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from the eco-giants

and their money troughs.  The email asks that I "get this stuff

out widely and put the pressure for AUS-AID and those groups to

stop funding these foreign NGOs".  They state that to come out

publicly would result in foreign conservation interests "chasing

us down and shutting our mouths like they want" and that "we got

all kinds of people helping us."  This includes Forests.org, Inc.


Questions of "environmental imperialism" can not just be shrugged

off.  Papua New Guineans communally own their land.  Just how

integrated have international NGOs and funders been with

landowning groups?  What exactly does PNG have to show in the way

of forest conservation for the millions of dollars raised and

invested in the country by foreign multi-national eco-



This hard hitting, heart-felt plea from Papua New Guinean

conservationists come as WWF is under tremendous criticism for

its practices in PNG.  Internal documents have leaked to the

regional press which indicated WWF had intentions to convene yet

another "forest summit" with World Bank money, to reform the

sector, after nearly two decades of failed efforts (see

http://forests.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid= 21392 and

http://forests.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid=21466 ).  The piece

below indicates WWF's model eco-forestry project in Kikori is

a sham – and has shut down – after burning through millions of



Unless international donors and NGOs are willing to attack the

root causes of forest destruction; including their own neo-

colonialist methods, they should not be tolerated.  In Papua New

Guinea, endemic corruption fueled by an irredeemable foreign

timber mafia is destroying the World's third largest rainforest

expanse.  Any rainforest conservation effort that refuses to

confront this reality - and call for a moratorium on industrial

log exports, a commission of inquiry into the logging industry,

and transitioning all donor support and government policy towards

supporting community based, eco-forestry and local

conservationists – is aiding and abetting the enemy. 


Global deforestation continues largely because of poorly

conceived international rainforest conservation programs.  The

best conservation efforts in the World are occurring around

kitchen tables and campfires by small groups of concerned people

concerned organizing to protect a particular forest area.  John

Seed of Rainforest Information Centre has for years identified

such self-motivated individuals, and through a small grants

program provided modest funding to help these groups.  I am quite

certain this and other similar efforts have done more for the

World's forests that all the corporate NGOs and clueless

environmental foundations in the World.  Ol manmeri bilong ol

narapela kantri - maski long givim kina long ol giaman long wok,

na halvim ol asples karim kaikai na lukautim bus.








Source:  People Against Foreign NGO Neocolonialism

Date:  April 5, 2003



“Multinational Conservation Organisations:  Neocolonialism To Be

Sure, But Not To Worry… The Donors Sure Don’t!”



1.   The Big Boys Need Cash

2.   Localisation, Tokenism, and Colonialism in PNG

3.   Colonialism Checklist for International NGO Country Offices

4.   Strategies for Success

5.   The Always-Elusive Bottom Up, Participatory Approach

6.   Annoyed Person

7.   ICAD on the Wasi

8.   Industrial Logging for Conservation

9.   Another TNC Attempt At Humour

10.  WWF’s Successful Sustainable Eco-Forestry In Papua New


11.  Creating New Partnerships

12.  WWF Hidden Agenda

13.  Maybe Someone Should Consult The Natives

14.  PNG Government Sellout To Foreigners

15.  Natural Development of Indigenous Organisations Is Being


16.  How To Hoodwink The Donors:  Lessons From The Field

17.  Process

18.  More Productive Alternatives If Donors Really Cared

19.  Papua New Guineans Are Capable

20.  Do The Foreign Conservationists Believe Such Things In Their


21.  Advice to Donors

22.  Reaction?

23.  Country Office Predictions

24.  Requiem





“Large NGOs resemble multinational corporations in structure and

operation. They are hierarchical, maintain large media,

government lobbying, and public relations departments, head-hunt,

invest proceeds in professionally managed portfolios, compete in

government tenders, and own a variety of unrelated businesses.” 



“Most [local] NGOs seem to have become mirrors of the European

or American NGOs and have a dependency syndrome that makes them

serve the interests of the parent NGOs that are sometimes

antithetical to our national ethos.”  AFRICAN NEWS


“Under the banner of saving the African environment, Africans in

the last few decades have been subject to a new form of

'environmental colonialism'."   DR ROBERT H. NELSON


“Is colonialism so accepted in our world today that we should

expect an African to be the first to take action before anyone

will move to purge it from the organization?  Does our silence

suggest we have so quickly forgotten centuries of another form of

colonial servitude?”  AFRICAN NGO LEADER


“Citizens who have become CI country directors are right in the

middle of continuing this colonial system because they refuse to

rock the boat enough so the necessary change will occur.  Don't

ever trust these foreign NGOs enough of their secret memos have

leaked by now to show they always have a hidden agenda.”  [NAME



"Some call it ‘environmental colonialism,’ others call it plain

racism and privilege. The underlying problem is often quite

basic, revolving around historic views of who should control the

land, perceptions of Native peoples, and ideas about how now-

endangered ecosystems should be

managed.”   WINONA LADUKE


“Papua New Guinea isn’t the only victim to the growing dominance

of the multinational conservation corporations, but now it’s in

the spotlight to see if local offices will remain submissive to

le nouveau colonialisme.”



“’I do not need white NGOs to speak for me’” JAMES SHIKWATI,



“Conservation proposals show a general pattern that is very

similar to that of… folk tales in general.”  DR F VAN HELDON


“Don’t start with big projects.”  DR AHMED EL-SOBKY


“The only cynics I see in this room are those who witness these

modern day NGO corporations at work, burdened with abysmal

results and obsessed with spin doctoring.  Who but cynics would

feel that this is something worth supporting in any form or

fashion.”  [NGO WATCHER]


“As long as the pay is OK I don’t care if they control us from





1.  The Big Boys Need Cash


The biggest of the big boys have arrived in Papua New Guinea.

Conservation International, World Wide Fund for Nature, and The

Nature Conservancy. Or to use their acronymns, CI, WWF and TNC. 

They all say they’re gonna save PNG’s tropical forests for

posterity. They point proudly to all that biodiversity they’ve

already saved.   They need money, lots of money to save even more

biodiversity and ready donors such as AUS AID, UNDP and now the

Moore Foundation have the big bucks to distribute.


There is no indication at all that these donors give a shit

whether the money achieves anything substantive or meaningful. 

What seems more important is that they get rid of the money to

some organization whose PR machine has successfully painted an

image of doing good.  Whether or not any good is actually done

seems almost immaterial. More important is that the donors not

end up being embarrassed later over how the money was used.  No

blatent money stealing is the big rule. Beyond that pretty much

anything goes.  And woe be any NGO with the audacity to say

they’re being offered too much money to accomplish their goals.

Perish the notion that an NGO might say they want to start with

less money than what they’re being offered.


Uninhabited forests that are impossible to log or destroy in any

other way are pointed out, without the hint of a snicker, as

being “forests we have saved” by these neocolonialist NGOs.

Lines are drawn on the map to show the new conservation areas.

Yes the big boys say they’re achieving a lot of conservation in

PNG and they’ve got the maps to prove it.


It’s all a whitewash effort to please donors so that the big

bucks will keep flowing.  The international consultants hired by

these NGOs are eager to help PNG save itself, leaving the country

with their pockets lined in cash and their retirements secured. 

All the big boy offices back in the USA, Europe and Australia

will count the overhead cash they’ll get from doing

“conservation in PNG”.   Looks like they’ll still be getting

their paycheques.


The donors swallow the whole thing like a stupid fish biting at

bait. Almost none of them have any idea at all how to dig deeper

to find out what is REALLY going on.  Do they even care? Probably

not, so long as nothing will surface that is embarrassing to

them.  So the donors smile when they see the slick maps and the

copious plans.  They reach into their pockets, take out another

wad of cash and flush it down the same international conservation

NGO toilet.  No worries, cuz they know they’ve picked NGOs that

know how to cover up or gloss over any money waste and misuse. 

The donor will never be embarrassed and that’s what counts.

LOOK impressive.  AVOID embarrassment.   Those are the new

cardinal rules of doing conservation in PNG now that the big boys

are in charge.



2.  Localisation, Tokenism and Colonialism in PNG


The international NGOs arrived in PNG as soon as some wise mind

noticed how much tropical forest was still here.  They stepped in

the door in the early 1990’s and at first tried to work with

local PNG NGOs.  But there were big problems. The local NGOs

moved too slow to suit them.  Some were downright cantankerous

and wouldn’t do things the way the big boys wanted them done.  No

local NGO had anything close to the staff or capacity needed to

handle projects of the size the international NGOs wanted to do.

Maybe even the international NGOs found money being misused by

the local NGOs.


Whatever the reason-truthfully we should say whatever the excuse-

sometime during the 1990’s the international conservation NGOs

decided to become colonialist, since of course they knew how to

do things properly.  The new green imperialists stopped working

through the local NGOs except in ways that look stinkingly like

payoffs to keep quiet, or to create the illusion of partnerships

that would make the donors feel nice and squishy inside.


Donors such as The MacArthur Foundation found it far less bother

to give a bigger piece of the pie to the international NGOs

rather than mess with the growing pains of the indigenous ones. 

It saved embarrassment. Armed with these new sources of big

money, the green imperialists were well poised to make the big



When they set up shop in Port Moresby, the green imperialists had

to be careful they didn’t look too colonialist.  First order of

business was to find a black face to put on display. The fastest

way to do that was to steal Papua New Guineans from existing NGOs

or government agencies. These international NGOs were in a hurry

to do conservation.  They didn’t want to be bothered with

investing the resources needed to build and add to the existing

capacity of PNG conservationists.  It was quicker to find ready

made capacity to shift over to their corner of the room.  Anyway

if the Papua New Guineans watched and listened quietly they’d

pick up how things should be done.


The neocolonialists always set up shop in town, never near the

people with whom they say they work in partnership with. That’s

because the town offices allow better contact to the powers that

be in Moresby, or the bosses in Washington, DC. Or Sydney. Or

Glanz. Communication with villagers was always secondary-the

office locations speak for these NGOs speak that in decibels. 

Always secondary.  But the plans never say that. No, these green

imperialists dwell on how closely they work with the villagers.

Maybe true if the villagers can find their way to the offices in

town, but that would mostly be the village spivs.


The green imperialists made sure they appended “PNG” to their

own acronyms to make their new operations look PNG born and bred.

But the timetables, the schedules, the report requirements, and

most everything else about the enterprise was most certainly not

coming from PNG.  Nope. It was all being imposed from outside. 

When anyone questioned this oddity, it was justified as being

something universal or a way that Papua New Guineans were just

going to have to learn if they wanted to compete in the new

world.  Ignorant of their own hypocrisy, they talked about the

evils of multinational mining companies and foreign loggers while

creating their own blend of outside imposition on PNG.


Most importantly when the international conservation NGOs set up

shop they make sure they built a pipeline large enough to allow a

steady stream of foreign consultants to start flowing to PNG.

Consultants who come armed with laptops, cookbook steps to

winning the hearts of villagers and landscape ecology theory and

planning notions that make no sense at all to the villagers.

Consultants who make more money in a day than most of the

villagers they ‘help’ would make in a year.  Consultants who

drown themselves in malaria prophylactics, sunscreen, dark

glasses and fancy boots, but breathe a sigh of relief if they can

keep their time in the village to a minimum.  It’s a lot more

productive and faster to plan the conservation project in one of

the nicer hotels in town. That way you can sleep in a ‘real’ bed

and eat ‘civilised’ food.  The whole nasty picture is fully armed

with justifications, excuses, and supporting rules and

regulations, all ensuring that the fundamental rule of foreign

aid bounceback is met.  So much money for PNG conservation, yet

so little seems to stick.  Besides, it would spoil the villagers.


One would think we were talking about the impeccably evil World

Bank or IMF here.  Nope. We’re talking about Conservation

International.   The Nature Conservancy.  World Wide Fund For

Nature. They’ve all got their cadre of laptop toting consultants

and advisors ready to crank out on demand, yet another new plan

for PNG conservation.  Bounceback. Bounceback. Bounceback.  So

much money for doing conservation in PNG.


These international conservation NGOs will point with pride to

how well they’ve localized.  But if any donor would bother to

look-and they never do-localization is constructed so that it

never threatens the NGO’s long term colonialist presence in PNG. 

Jobs held by expatriates are available for filling by Papua New

Guineans, but definitely not by Papua New Guineans who stand up

for PNG and call out the colonialist deeds of the NGOs for what

they are. Such people are radicals, troublemakers, unproductive

people that must be kept out of the system. Those very few Papua

New Guineans who have dared complain that their overseas bosses

are not following the bottom up philosophy they hold so dear to

their hearts have been shoved aside from the top down the moment

their contract comes due for renewal.


You will never, ever hear any talk or see any plans that indicate

that the international NGOs have a plan to devolve into a truly

PNG, truly national NGO. Never. Like the sticky tentacles of an

octopus, the mouth of the green imperialist gets its food from

what the arms can reach in PNG, in Africa, in Asia.  It’s okay to

replace white faces with black at all levels of the organization.

But just like Chevron Niugini, the first word in that NGO’s name

is expected to always remain WWF, CI, or TNC. There is no other

game plan. Globalisation in all its negative aspects begins in

PNG with the international conservation organizations.

Neocolonialism is alive and well in PNG in the form of WWF-PNG,



It’s clearer tokenism when Papua New Guineans are hired to fill

the ranks of these local ‘branches’ of behemoths headquartered in

the developed. That’s where the strings are pulled and there is

no plan to do it any other way.   The donors never bother to

question how any of this leads to true capacity, pride and

independence. Anyway, the international conservation NGOs have a

slew of buzz words and rosy prospects should the questions be

asked.  They’ll also say they’ve only done this to ensure the

funds are used properly, but that shows how well they’ve bought

into their own bullshit.  In one specific case, an international

NGO has become very aware that money is being misused in Port

Moresby.  The story, in fact, is all over the NGO community but

fortunately those people don’t talk to the donors and the donors

wouldn’t get their trust even if they bothered to ask.  The

international NGO has everything under control.  They won’t sack

the fellows, that might cause uncomfortable questions and

embarrassment.  Instead, they’ve found ways to keep the misuse at

a manageable level. Which beckons the question, how is any of

this an improvement over what existed before the international

NGOs moved into PNG?


While elsewhere in the world, people bemoan expressions of ‘green

imperalism’ in the context of blatant outside imposition of

nature reserves, or the laying down of western environmentalist

priorities for people with other priorities.  In Papua New Guinea

the green imperialists have reached a new, much sneakier level.


Their presence has, at best, has caused the atrophy of what would

have been a natural evolution of a truly indigenous conservation

movement. The truly PNG NGOs have no ability to compete against

the big boys even if they wanted to, in fact in many ways it’s

easier to give up and just copycat the green imperialists.  The

donors will appreciate this new professionalism, it makes them

almost feel like they’re back home.


The international conservation organizations pay higher salaries

than indigenous conservation groups could possibly afford, or

feel would be wise to offer.  It’s not that the indigenous

conservation group necessarily want to compete to offer these

salaries.  More troubling is the sabotage that these high

salaries cause to the nurturing of philosophies such as

“conviction” or “sacrifice”.  In PNG, the international

conservation groups look and act little different than government

itself which is a big laugh when the former government employees

stand up at meeting and tell everyone how they’re different from

government.  In 2001 the local heads of all these PNG offices had

come straight from the PNG government bureaucracy.  They’ve

learned to use the right words- bottom up, participatory, one

with the community when they speak to the donors or to anyone

who’ll listen.  Then at the coffee break the senior management

complain to each other about how low their pay is. The big bosses

overseas look the other way and pontificate about how dedicated

and committed their staff are on the ground.  Get off it. In PNG,

the higher level staff are in it for the money, not the cause,

that fact radiates in almost any performance measure you care to

apply. So much for grassroots conservation. In PNG, we’re in the

business of conservation.


My friends, neocolonialism is alive and well today in Papua New

Guinea. It takes the shape of the multinational conservation

organizations. But the donors don’t care.  They just need to get

rid of their money in a way that makes them feel good, and

doesn’t later cause embarrassment.



3.  Neocolonialism Checklist for International NGO Country



Evaluating how much neocolonialism has captured Papua New

Guinea’s country offices starts with knowing the definitions of

colonialism and neocolonialism.


Definition 1- "Colonialism is a system designed to extract wealth

of any kind from the colony and transfer it to the mother in a

way that benefits the mother more than the colony."


Definition 2-“Neocolonialism is when a body that in theory is

independent and has all the outward appearances of independence,

internally has its economic and political policies directed from

outside. This relationship is detrimental whenever those ties

allow the outside party to subjugate, overrule or compromise the

best interests of the supposedly sovereign body.”


Know the signs of colonialism.  Things to evaluate in the

multinational conservation NGOs operating in PNG include: 


A. Transfer & accumulation of money raised supposedly for PNG

conservation activities.  Detect hidden as well as upfront

overheads such as how much money spent within PNG effectively

goes back to the originating country through hiring of overseas

advisers, transfer pricing, and purchase of foreign supplies and

equipment.   Foreign NGOs run like companies should pay taxes? 


B. Transfer of knowledge to PNG through extensive staff training. 

What percent of time do expat consultants or staff devote to

direct training of indigenous staff. 


C. Laws, rules and regulations for Papua New Guineans to follow

in the organization: who establishes them.    


D. Project idea and location:  where does the idea first come

from, and who first called for the research that provided it. 


E. Fundraising purse strings: Who is allowed to make the initial

inquiry for raising funds. What is the latitude of potential

donors who can be contacted.  How well are local staff involved

in fund raising specifically donor contacts and development of

relationships with donors.


Who controls the money at the top is of highest importance since

it is the key to who will hold the most power and independence in

the relationship.


Specifics to assess when establishing the extent of

neocolonialism within a country office structure.  Localisation

of processes is as important as localisation of staff positions. 

Do an evaluation:


1. Foreign office appointment of local heads (as opposed to a

local board or management team having exclusive jurisdiction over

those appointments).

2. Foreign office establishment of details of policy and

procedure that must be followed by the local office.

3. Existing mechanisms promoting the flow of benefits from the

local office back to the foreign office (rules that favour the

hiring of outside advisors by the foreign office, payment of

airfares and other costs of foreign officer visitors using funds

raised for domestic programmes, etc.).

4. Impression from the overseas public that the foreign office is

more responsible for local achievements than is the local office

(e.g. publicity crediting the organisation as a whole for local

work, which tends to be assumed as work by the foreign office).

5. Foreign office uses local projects to raise a large amount of

overhead for itself in amounts that usually exceed the actual

expenses of the foreign office supporting this enterprise

(foreign office profiteering).

6. Foreign office control or overruling of local office finances

or budgets.

Who makes most fundraising contacts, expat or Papua New Guinean?

Who has the best handle on fundraising contacts, expat or Papua

New Guinean? Who establishes budgets, expat or Papua New Guinean?

Who takes primary responsibility on raising funds, expat or Papua

New Guinean? Does a plan or timetable exist for localizing any of

the above process? Is there any training of Papua New Guineans to

bring them realistically to that point?  (“training on grant

writing is not enough”).


Learning more about foreign NGOs with PNG country offices.

Compare the organisational policies and actions against the

checklist of colonialist activities above.

Learn from the PNG director to find out how much time they spend

satisfying directives coming from outside PNG.

Learn from other staff of these NGOs a sense of whether their

input is largely limited to evaluating preexisting ideas and

plans that actually started with overseas staff, compared to

providing their own ideas and slowly working it into a programme,

with outside assistance being limited to a facilitating or

training role.

Notice if the organisation has made recent moves to stop staff

from talking after the issue of colonialism has become public.

When positions were localised was it because a Papua New Guinean

had sufficient capacity to take over the job, or because there

were insufficient funds to keep an expat?

Where is evidence for progression towards full autonomy of the

PNG office. Can the PNG office solicit funds from competing

conservation organisations (eg from WWF, TNC, CI, WCS, etc) for

their programmes?  Are they restricted to getting funds only

through their papa office, or with papa office approval?

Does any timetable exist outlining a process for the local office

to graduate and become totally independent of the founding

organisation? Date deadlines are not as realistic as laying out a

series of performance measures.  Localisation plans are expected

in PNG and should apply to the localisation of the entire foreign

NGO country office as well as to individual staff positions. 

Does a localisation plan exist for the pikinini office and if so

was it prepared by the papa office or the pikininis?


The international NGOs will say that the way things are is the

way it has to be and if you don’t like it then leave.  In so many

words, so too did the colonial masters make this same kind of

comment.   Those words do not have to be accepted.



4. Strategies for Success


The setup developed over the years is quietly, elegantly

effective.  The NGO must first find an indigenous candidate whose

personal priorities lie more in pocketbook issues and following

the rules.  Appointing such a person as country director reduces

possible problems.  For example challenges from that kind of

country director will mostly deal with money matters that are

more easily dealt with, using payoffs if necessary. When those

kinds of country directors complain about process, the focus is

on procedure rather than structure which is also easier to deal

with and less threatening to the home office.  If the country

director has good stature that can be used to effectively

counteract any spirited staff criticism underneath.  The NGO can

point with pride to their success at localising positions yet

still retain effective control over the operation.  This setup

requires only light steering behind the scenes to make sure that

country offices toe the line. Add to the mix a few external

conservationists who care nothing about whether or not their

involvement helps support neocolonialism, and the structure

slowly sets and cures into a stable form.



5.  The Always Elusive, Bottom Up Participatory Approach


Lots and lots and lots of money.  UNDP has been all too happy to

give millions to one of those international conservation NGOs

working in PNG.  Which one?  You know. It’s the group whose

founders originally split off from The Nature Conservancy over a

philosophical spat. They vehemently disagreed that it was morally

right to conserve forest in Latin America by just buying the

land, rather than taking the slower but more lasting approach of

working with the people.  Those founding fathers of CI said the

TNC approach was no way to achieve lasting conservation in

developing countries.  Yet without a hint of embarrassment today

they’ve about-faced in their views.  Now they’re telling everyone

that the only way to achieve conservation in the developing world

is to buy land and resource rights.  Ironic indeed, is this

really their only option or best way to achieve conservation in

places like PNG? Or in fact, has the organization managed to so

badly stuff up doing things the right way, that they’re eager to

take what looks like the easy way out?  After all, donors only

have memories that last 3 or 5 years.  After that, it’s another

donor and another project.  Planning for the short term takes



No international conservation group would ever, ever say they

dictate to those local partners with whom they work. They would

smile sweetly and say they’re dedicated to the participatory

approach.  They believe in consultation.  In partnerships. In

working with people.  They aren’t here to tell Papua New Guineans

what to do, but to simply give them the tools they need to make

their own choices.


CI probably uses the word participatory as much as anyone, yet

practices it just about as little as any other international

conservation NGO.  In PNG CI has proven itself to be yet another

supposedly bottom up organization that reeks of top down

imposition, starting from the overseas directors, and winding

it’s way down to the dictates of field staff to the villagers

with whom they work.  An American biologist boss proudly offers

his research experience in PNG that dates back to the colonial

days.  Maybe that’s where he refined his ability to issue one

dictate after another. Hurryup may well be this fellow’s middle

name. Damn the people and their slowness, conservation must

proceed with speed. He even says outright that he doesn’t believe

in that capacity building nonsense at the village level that it

takes too much time.  Social parameters be damned, what does any

of that have to do with the birds and the bees of PNG?  The

agenda says that there must be protected areas by such and such

date. If the local people say no, find some that say yes. If all

of them say no, find someway to convince them to say yes.  The

really important thing is to be able to issue a colourful map

that shows the new conservation areas because that’s what the big

bosses want to see back in Washington. The big bosses would

never, in their wildest dreams, think of coming to PNG and

spending enough time in the village to find out how superficial

it all is with the very people who own the land and control the

resources.  It really doesn’t matter. No one gives a rats ass

whether or not any of the lofty plans and pretty maps have any

basis in reality. Nothing has to be meaningful. Or truthful. And

thank God Papua New Guineans tend to be reserved and respectful. 


That is a perfect situation for the big boys.  They can impose a

lot, then fool themselves into thinking that Papua New Guinean

silence indicates tacit approval. And if any dare speak out, they

PhD biologists, OBE patrons, and MBA directors are well trained

in debating. “I don’t think you understand the reality of the

situation,” they’ll say.  Soon the Papua New Guinean will resume

their silence.


Right now in PNG, CI is hard at work perfecting the inane.  Big

bucks for giant marine projects dictate that there must be

objectives, outcomes, and performance measures presented slick as

ice on paper.  The Papua New Guinean in charge has become

proficient at Microsoft Powerpoint. One wonders that in their

mental haze nurtured by life in the city, they haven’t yet

offered Powerpoint workshops to the villages. I have seen very

little indication that the Papua New Guineans feel any true

ownership in any of the plans being generated.  Any expressions

of dissent that have surfaced are looked upon as problems rather

than refreshing breathes of air.  Teamwork is paramount, and

people must work together at all costs.  Stop complaining. 


Dispel those thoughts, they don’t fit into what we’re doing. 

Follow the CI policy and rules-they’ve been generated by the top

down for the good of all of us.


It would be obscene to use the word empowerment to describe how

CI is proceeding on the ground these days.  Consultation at all

levels is conspicuously poor.  Decision making is hardly

participatory when people are informed of the organisation’s

expectations and then cast forth to implement.  The process is

never allowed to proceed at the speed that is comfortable to the

target audience.  Again and again timetables are imposed from

above and outside, violating fundamental lessons of how to do

things right.  Anyone who buys into this idiocy is rewarded,

while those who question it seem to be looked upon by the higher

powers as being troublemakers that ideally should be removed and

should that prove embarrassing should be acknowledged but



One of the big rules at CI-PNG is that only the big boys should

be communicating with the donors.  Your role as a Papua New

Guinean is to implement, not be heard, unless you’re telling us

you agree.  Above all don’t do anything that will embarrass the

donors, or embarrass us in front of the donors.  We need their

money.  Remember, there are lots of people in Washington DC that

have mortgages to pay.  Office rent is astronomical there. The

money has to come from somewhere.


True empowerment requires leaders who create the conditions that

allow people to grow.   Planning for any project that is expected

to succeed must start from the ground up, not the other way

around.  There are so many lessons learnt papers on all this it

one wonders why anyone would pretend any differently.  But

pretence is rampant at CI-PNG.  Does the upper management

actually believe that those below them will become empowered if

they meekly follow enough orders from above?  Any astute analysis

of the sinking ship CI-PNG reveals that staff and targets are

not becoming very empowered.  Instead of the bells of

empowerment, one hears the racket of squabbling and complaining. 

Staff are increasingly reacting to the noise by isolating

themselves and communicating less.  It all seems so terribly

opposite of how we would expect NGOs to perform.  Whatever

happened to the notion of bottom up planning and implementation

that NGOs are supposed to not only preach, but also practice? 

The evidence is scarce indeed at CI-PNG.


The good ship CI-PNG is lurching toward sunken reefs as it

ignores the impossibility of spending huge sums of money wisely

and casts aside attempts to improve an intuitively ineffective

top down management style.  If top management shows in everyday

life that they haven’t a clue what participatory really means,

how can CI-PNG possibly believe it can implement a participatory

strategy with its target audiences?  After all, that’s what all

the plans say they’re doing.  And will do.  No, the good

ship CI-PNG is heading towards disaster.  It will rip its hull

sooner or later, and rather than call for help and try to patch

the hole, instead, a coverup canvas will be thrown down, to hide

the disaster from oblivious donors.  More resources will need to

be devoted towards public relations and and information desk may

have to be created.


It’s so enticing to cast aside all the headaches and challenges

that we confront when we try to do things right, learn from

mistakes of the past, and proceed on the initiative and

timetables of the villagers with whom we work. It’s so so much

easier to throttle full speed ahead, applying imposition and

dictation throughout the project, while labeling the whole thing

involvement.   Forget about true participation, just buy the

land. Buy the timber - but in the case of CI-PNG, make sure you

keep the valuation papers secret so that you can underpay the

villagers for their resource.  Once the land is bought or the

timber is secured, you don’t have to worry anymore.  Anytime

there are problems, just call the police, or maybe even a mobile

squad to make sure that those damned lines drawn on the map in

Washington are being adhered to by the people back in PNG.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.   What are the international

conservation NGOs teaching us in PNG, one of the few pieces of

real estate left on earth where the indigenous people still

largely control their land and its resources?  They are not

empowering the people to take full responsibility for the use or

misuse of their resources.  Instead, they are disempowering the

people, by absolving them of the hardest responsibilities. 

“There, there, we’ll do it for you,” is the unspoken phrase.



6.  Annoyed Person


“If international NGOs want to limit their work within

developing countries to supporting parks and wildlife already

protected and in public ownership, no problems, we’re in full

support.  Just stop telling the world you’re doing a significant

thing to stop today’s destruction of biodiversity and natural

habitats because you’re not. If your aim is like Conservation

International’s and The Nature Conservancy’s to buy land or

resource rights in those countries for the lowest possible price

so you can set them aside “for the benefit of the natives”,

call yourself what you really are-a benevolent but paternalistic

colonial landowner.  If by chance your goal is actually to

reverse today’s catastrophic trends, please stop pushing aside

the people in your overwhelming rush to hold up the latest animal

conservation icon.  People destroy and people conserve but the

last person to understand people and develop effective strategies

for community participation is a Washington conservation

bureaucrat planner or some conservation biologist who is

oblivious to everything butthe flowers he’s watching or his

computer generated landscape ecologies.”



7.  ICAD on the Wasi


Once upon a time in the not too distant past an international NGO

decided to do nature conservation in the Wasi river basin.  This

was understandable idea. The place was the environmentalist’s

dream.  Lots and lots of bush filled with a multitude of flying

and biting things.  A diverse bunch of unwashed and scabrous

savages leading traditional lives that they punctuated with

stories and wars to give it some meaning.  No industry, no

logging or mining, just a virginal tract of scrub.


Looking at the planet from a distance, curious people might ask

why this area is forested and largely intact compared to the rest

of the joint for which the impartial scientist verdict is

“stuffed”.  Is it a mere coincidence that the place has been

bypassed by the modern world? No.


Short and sweet, the place is a disease ridden ditch and the

people unreasonable and nasty.  No one ever lived in the Wasi

because they wanted to pass their days savouring the delights of

sago and fish three meals a day, while loosing litres of blood to

the mosquitos.  No, the Wasis were refugees thrown out from the

competitive highlands by nastier people who had little land and

didn’t want to share it.  Over the eons numerous groups took up

residence in the swamps and lakes of the Wasi all of whom had

only one thing in common - a mutual detestation of each other.


One must ask why the Wasis have not stuffed the place up

themselves? Are they, as some of our NGO friends suspected, the

possessors of native wisdom that has allowed them to live in

harmony with nature for an interminably long time?  Unfortunately

not.  Like all humans the Wasis would have wrecked the place if

they had got their hands on the technology.  As the esteemed

biologist Ralph Bulmer said “If conservation is the conscious

management of resources so that yields are sustained

indefinitely, then there is little evidence of conservation in

New Guinea”.  New Guineans, like the overwhelming majority of

humanity, they are primarily concerned with immediate yields of

crops, game, women and now, cash.


The environmental record of the Wasis could be better.  They have

converted at least half of the Wasi forests to grassland by

cooking it whenever it has been dry enough to hold a spark.  No

botanist would say that grassland is natural.  It was created by

human disturbance.  Later the Wasi exacerbated the local water

weed problems by covertly seeding their neighbour’s rivers with

the plants (this didn’t bode well for the NGO’s plan to organise

the tribes into weed control teams).  They have openly invited

and welcomed any organisation willing to log, clear or mine

despite a clear knowledge of the outcommes.  The distressing fact

is the Wasis would have destroyed the place were it not for the

malaria and other parasites that kill most of their kids, sap

their energy and make them mad.  In essence, their population has

not been able to get to the level where it can push the resources

to the point of scarcity.


Given that the Wasis have been sitting around the swamps for the

best part of the millennia we must also question why they were

unable to smelt steel, ponder nuclear physics and destroy the

place like we did? Good question.  The nasty environment never

gave them a break, their spare time was devoted to hostilities

with their neighbours and the rank wet climate didn’t help with

the storage of knowledge about such things, a vital precursor to

the development of that knowledge into spacecraft and the like. 

There is every reason to believe that if left to themselves the

Wasi basin would still be at the same technological level in

another thousand years.  You must realise however, they could not

be left to themselves. They had needs and those needs had to be

filled. (At this point we could discuss the origin of the idea of

development as not only a necessity but a moral obligation on the

part of the developed to the developing - but we won’t.  I will

assume the reader has given this some thought).


The international NGOs were in a quandary when they thought of

thinking about these things, but because they had money to spend

they decided not to.  They wanted to do conservation.  What do

you mean by conservation someone asked “Oh we support

biodiversity and all that” so they didn’t know either.


The idea that we should hang onto biodiversity came about as a

queasy sort of feeling that struck the westerners guts when they

finished off most of their biota.  As westerners looked upon

their maimed and dying land some had an inclining of their own

mortality and its dependence upon the land from which they came. 

They realised a fraction late that the “biodiversity”, the

plants and animals, were actually quite important for the well

being of humans quite aside from their immediate value.

“Biodiversity” is a nice easy word that is hard to define so is

easy to defend.  The western conservation effort?  They put their

last 10% of bush in parks and hoped like all hell that it would

be enough. But it wasn’t.


Realising that most of the planet’s biodiversity remained in the

third world, or in new-speak “the developing nations”, the

western green movement began to explore ways of coercing the poor

into conservation. First the old game park model was tried,

mainly in Africa, but given a hurl in most places.  The people

were rounded up and excluded from fenced “protected areas” and

the wildlife was managed.  The parks worked for a while but soon

broke down under pressure from the hungry hordes behind the wire. 

Another push came in the form of debt-for-nature swaps in which

the rich lessened the amount the poor owed them if they locked up

their biodiversity and looked after it.  “Paper parks” came

into existence when poor nations put circles on maps without

really meaning it.  In short nothing seemed to work.  So like the

biblical prodigal son who went back to the family farm after

blowing his share, the rich having squandered their biodiversity

saw they must come back and grovel to the poor.  Having seen the

rich come past in tourist buses the poor were now sick of being

poor, and said “we don’t want conservation, we want to thrash

our biodiversity so we can be like you!”.


Some bright spark, probably an American, saw the gap between the

horns of this dilemma and announced that it was possible to have

your cake and eat it too.  The idea: conservation integrated with

development.  It even was given an acronym (ICAD)  - one of the

oldest tricks in the book to give a spurious thing unjustified

credibility.  ICAD was something that grew from “sustainable

development”, that marvellous term which means many things to as

many people but in reality is quite meaningless.  It is the

mantra that allows most to do what they want and feel good about

it. ICAD.  Integrated conservation and development.  How



ICAD is based on the assumption that if people’s basic needs are

satiated then they will be interested in conservation.  This goes

against the experience and history of most of humanity, but we

will ignore that for the moment.  In the village the ICAD

practitioner talks of ways to make cash from the bush without

simply flogging it off.  He talks about cash from forest products

and sustainability.  The locals think cash but don’t usually get

the sustainability spiel.  It is a lovely idea; help the natives

along a pretty path to development that doesn’t result in the

destruction of the place.  They get developmentand humanity gets

some bush. Remember by “development” we mean “things that can

be bought for cash” including things like schooling and health

services, as well as beer, dope, tinned fish women and shotguns.


Development is not primarily concerned with parameters like

happiness, social cohesion, or fulfilment - westerners know from

experience that if you have enough cash these peripheral needs

are always filled.


(As an aside the ICAD idea seems to satisfy most of the hallmarks

of a religion.  It is deemed a process yet cannot be tested or

verified. Debating the ideological basis of ICAD  is not

permitted; and the leaders of ICAD always seem to get rich while

preaching piety to the masses.)


The Wasi and our international NGO?  Well the international NGO

(let’s call them WWF for the sake of accuracy) was moneyed up to

the tune of a few million given to them by Euro-Nation who wanted

to balance their books, oh, and see some rainforest preserved in

the antipodes.  But what was the NGO going to do I hear you ask? 

“Sustainable development”.  Yes we know that, but seriously,

what was the NGO actually going to do with the millions of kina

on the ground, day by day, to achieve conservation and happiness

on the banks of the Wasi???


One school of thought was that the NGO didn’t have enough money

to actually do either conservation or development.  By the time

the staff were employed and paid with travel and living

allowances there wasn’t much cash left over, and that was needed

to pay for fax paper and inter-office memoranda.  The Wasis were

just going to have to be satisfied with motivational workshops

aimed at “cultural reinforcement”.

Cultural reinforcement is a nice way of saying “you better get

to like the way you live ‘cause nothing is about to change”. It

was ironic that the NGO actually valued the Wasi’s culture more

than the Wasis did.  To the Wasis it was just a way of surviving

until something better came along.  The NGO saw it as another

type of diversity that should be preserved so future generations

of savages could tell the same stories and fight the same wars

while future generations of tourists could pay to watch.


Another idea was to develop a resource centre in the middle of

the project area.  It would house a good library holding all

sorts of self help development materials.  “How to start a

butterfly farm in three easy steps”, “A Beginners guide to

Small scale saw-milling” for instance.  A place for quiet study

and idle reflection on the options available to the average Wasi

family.  It would also hold cultural artefacts and biological

specimens from the area so the locals could see that others held

their things in high esteem and would conversely look upon their

lot and themselves in a new and warmer light.  Some said the

Centre would also have a coffee shop and a sales outlet so the

NGO wouldn’t have to support it for too long.  Some said that the

place would be robbed and cooked before it was finished but they

were miserable cynics who had spent too much time in the bush.


There was a proposal to assist the Provincial Government to plan

for the future by providing them with information about their

region. However the Provincial Government had a problem with cash

accountability. Millions of kina arrived every year but it always

left without anyone actually seeing it.  The NGO believed that if

given direction and vision the Government would be revitalised,

repent and spend their money wisely.  The Government suggested

the NGO could buy them computers to enable them to keep track of

their money.


The last and most treasured idea was to set up some model eco-

projects in a few select villages which would then set a shining

sustainable example to the region.  Village-based saw-milling was

an obvious choice as it was seen to provide an alternative to the

feared industrial logging. Villagers harvesting their own timber

as less likely to sell the timber rights to the Malaysians - or

so the theory goes.  The only difference is with one you get paid

heaps just to sit around, while with the other you get paid a

pittance to work your guts out for ever.  You can see why

theMalaysians were popular.  The NGO was not prepared to actually

hand over the equipment needed to start a saw-milling facility. 

This of course would encourage the Wasis to become free-loaders

waiting for the next project.  The Wasis didn’t know the term

“free-loader but they were certainly waiting for the next

project. There also wasn’t enough money for direct assistance

(“We are not a charity you know”).  No, the NGO would help the

villagers get to the bank where they could secure a nice loan, to

buy the stuff themselves.


All this ignored the original situation.  The Wasis had

unwittingly been excellent conservationists for a long time

simply by dying of malaria and killing each other.  The best

thing the international NGO (let’s call them WWF for the sake of

accuracy) could do would be to simply leave the Wasis alone while

doing what they could to deter the nastier industries from

entering the region.  If and I mean IF they could bring health,

education and awareness to the villages, only then would there be

a need to talk conservation.  In doing Conservation our NGO was

creating the conservation problem they hoped to solve.


IF only it had worked out that way. It didn’t. Several years

later our international NGO (let’s call them WWF for the sake of

accuracy) has successfully burned through a few million dollars

and the Dutch government must be happy indeed.  Staff mostly sit

in the office its too hot to go out. Frustrated by the project’s

ineptness, local government still managed to pressure the project

to dish out cargo water supplies and other handouts. The top dog

WWF bureaucrat in Moresby, a cargo thinker of the highest degree,

pushes the project to deliver even more cargo for the people.

Creating lazy, dependent people is obviously the unstated goal.

Still, as long as the money keeps burning and hardwood timber

prices stay low the international NGO can point to all that

forest they’ve saved for the Wasi people.



8.  Industrial Logging For Conservation


The Nature Conservancy’s logging intent in Papua New Guinea comes

from information they provided for the internet:


“In Madang TNC and Sustainable Forest Systems (a Nevada based

logging company) have jointly acquired a permit to operate in the

forests of the Josephstaal region. Together with the local people

they will work to provide a sustainable logging program which

will provide the people with money to build schools and services.

Maya Gorrez, is heading up this program and says that ‘the very

unique bio-diversity of the area, as well as SFR's reputation for

good conservation, have allowed us to pursue this project, and

hopefully it will convince the landowners of the benefits of

sustainable forestry.’”


As usual, it’s hype.  Can one ever believe what these green

donkeys say when they promote their projects in developing



The real story is that none of this ever got off the ground. 

Even worse, TNC explained that they were involved in a very

successful sustainable logging project in Paraguay so they had

success stories under the belt. This was completely false.


The Nature Conservancy now points to all the government obstacles

they came up against as reason why the whole thing failed.  They

don’t tell another part of the story so we will do so. TNC has

earned its membership as a neocolonialist conservation

organization operating in PNG.


“Whereas the Lak experience had emphasized the need to collect

socio-economic information which had led to the community-based

approach… the TNC Bismarck Ramu proposal was back in the mode of

conservationists drawing boundaries on maps.”  (Dr. Flip Van



TNC soon realized that the Josephstaal concession area had too

little valuable harvestable timber to support their envisioned

sustainable forestry operation.  They cast their eyes upstream to

the Middle Ramu Forestry Management Area, also available for

logging which had more timber and made their project economically

viable.  The problem was a PNG NGO called the Bismarck Ramu Group

already was working with communities in that area (that NGO had

begun as a project funded by UNDP, and eventually became an

independent local NGO).   While TNC became completely focused on

offering the “sustainable versus nonsustainable” logging choice

for villagers, the Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG) was discussing

“logging or no logging” options, with the “no logging” options

being without any alternative economic incentives or promises.

What did village communities began choosing in the Middle Ramu

Forestry Management Area?  They decided they wanted no logging at

all sustainable or not.


Is not that the best option to protect forests?  TNC did not see

it that way.  If they couldn’t secure the Middle Ramu concession,

then their entire project would collapse.   A tug-of-war

developed, with TNC promoting logging while BRG continued their

community development process. The communities still decided they

didn’t want any form of logging.


The logger TNC had lost despite their best efforts to convince

villagers to cut down their trees.  The logging project never got

off the ground, and the Middle Ramu area today remains unlogged. 

That has not stopped TNC from moving to nearby territory in the

area and trying something else this time.   The Josephstaal

communities were dropped like a hot potato they are of no

importance to TNC anymore.



9.  Another TNC Attempt At Humour


TNC uses many high priced expatriate consultants as needed to

accomplish tasks that Papua New Guineans cannot possibly do. 

Recently TNC drafted a new law that promotes conservation in

collaboration with the local level Almami government in Madang

Province.  Local level government is made up of local leaders

that operate in a more informal government settting below the

district level.  The entire text of the draft law is much too

long to reproduce but a few excerpts will give the overall

flavour. Note that this draft was the first one offered for

public consumption, there is no alternative more simple version

available to local people nor any version written in pidgin or

local language.  Within the area in which this Local Level

Government operates, English is never more than a second

language, and the majority would not be functionally literate in

English.  Leaders within the Local Level Government would have a

higher level of formal education but English would still be their

second language:






Being an Act to provide for the safeguarding of the environment

and the flora and fauna in the Almami Rural Local Level

Government area in reinforcing the national laws on the

environment as permitted by Section 44 (1) (p), (s) and (z) of

the Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local-Level

Governments and Section 25 of the Local-level Governments

Administration Act.


MADE by the Almami Rural Local-Level Government to come into

operation in accordance with Section 141 of the Organic Law on

Provincial Governments and Local-Level Governments.”




The objectives of this Act are -


(a) to protect the environment while allowing for compatible

economic development in a way that improves the quality of life

and maintains the ecological processes on which life depends;  


(b) to sustain the potential of natural and physical resources to

meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations, and

safeguard the life-supporting capacity of air, water, land and

eco-systems;   and

(c) to ensure that proper weight is given to both the long-term

and short-term social, economic, environmental and equity

considerations in deciding all matters relating to environmental

management, protection, restoration and enhancement;   and

(d) to avoid, remedy or mitigate any adverse effects of

activities on the environment by regulating in an integrated,

cost-effective and systematic manner, activities  and substances

that cause environmental harm;   and

(e) to regulate activities which may have a harmful effect on the

environment in an open and transparent manner and ensure that

consultation occurs in relation to decisions under this Act with

persons and bodies who are likely to be affected by them; and

(f) to provide a means for carrying into effect obligations under

any international treaty or convention relating to the

environment to which Papua New Guinea is a party.”





The Monitoring Committee shall, as soon as practicable after the

end of each year and before the end of March in the following

year, furnish to the President of the Local-level Government a

report on its operations during that year.







(1) Subject to Subsection (5) a person, other than a person who

has customary rights to collect flora and take or kill fauna in a

environment and conservation area, shall not collect flora or

take or kill fauna in the Area.“




A person shall not light a fire in the Area other than in

accordance with the management plan of the Area.




A person shall not dispose of any refuse, litter or garbage in or

into the Area.




A person shall camp only in designated places as specified in the

management plan of the Area.”



One reader of the entire document had a first impression:  “This

must be some kind of joke!”   A joke indeed, for never in the

history of PNG has such a document been created, supposedly for

and by local landowners. Anyone who has spent anytime in PNG, and

read those last sections quoted above, is in danger of exploding

in a fit of hysteria.   Those international NGOs should not

complain about the nontransparent and devious documents that

loggers push in front of villagers noses when they engage in the

same practice.  However, it is a good way to find work for high

priced expatriate consultants to carry out.


10.  WWF Successful Sustainable Eco-Forestry In Papua New Guinea


The Giant Panda WWF does a fine job of writing up its projects

for the internet so that many thousands can read the good news. 

We found their description of what they were doing in the Gulf

Province, near the settlement of Kikori.  It sounds like a really

wonderful activity, very beneficial to the local people, and a

great contribution to conservation of tropical forests as you can

read for yourself:


“Eco-forestry (Kikori Integrated Conservation and Development

Project, Papua New Guinea)

The project is promoting ecologically and socially sensitive,

community-based forestry enterprises with the aim of achieving

independent certification. This is known as Forestry Stewardship

Council (FSC) <http://www.wwfpacific.org.fj/forests3.htm>

certification. WWF has established an eco-forestry umbrella

company, Kikori Pacific, which acts as a marketing agent and

provides training for community-based eco-forestry groups in the

Lower Kikori area.

Kikori Pacific is buying, milling, and selling timber on a

sustainable basis and continues to export timber to an

international buyer in Australia. Kikori Pacific is working with

18 clans and more than 120 landowners. Inventory work and clan

boundaries are well established and an increasing number of

forest resource owners are requesting the assistance of Kikori

Pacific. Among the local landowner companies working with Kikori

Pacific, the most successful is Iviri Timbers. Iviri Timbers

initially operated with a mill they had borrowed from WWF and

with the money they generated, they bought their own mill.

Kikori Pacific and WWF are also working with the New York

Botanical Gardens to do post-harvest assessments and a forest

inventory. WWF’s biodiversity monitoring of Kikori ecoforestry

has shown that there has been minimal environmental impact in

harvested areas. Very few trees are cut per hectare, logs are

floated on waterways, no roads are constructed and no heavy

machinery is operated.”


The above information is remaining on the web site of WWF South

Pacific (Fiji) Office at www.wwfpacific.org.fj/kikori.htm

<http://www.wwfpacific.org.fj/kikori.htm., although maybe it will

be soon be removed now that we call attention to it.


After speaking to the WWF Country Director and politely asking

some questions in not too direct a fashion, we were sorry to see

that a few pieces of information were accidentally left out of

this description. Perhaps it was in a moment of forgetfulness. 

To help out this informative story which you can read today on

the internet, we would now like to add several pieces of recent

and verified information that has come from the WWF staff in

Papua New Guinea:


* Kikori Pacific offices and operations are now completely closed

and abandoned.

* The Australian manager left behind heavy debt to a local

company when he shut the doors.

* WWF, which in one breathe tells us that Kikori Pacific is

theirs and their initiative, in more recent panting has distanced

itself from the company.  Yet, most recently WWF is reported to

be arranging to settle the outstanding debt, probably purely out

of kindness and not because there is any connection.

* The controversial mangrove areas that Kikori Pacific was buying

logs from had not been touched by the large Malaysian logging

company operating in the area, even though that company is

cutting everywhere in the vicinity. We have confirmed that the

Malaysians were leaving these areas alone was because the logs

came out of swampy ground.  That’s why it’s called mangrove

swamp.   It seems that the WWF project was an alternative to

villagers to selling their timber to the Malaysian company TFI

but a supplement.  It gave local people the chance to log out the

last, previously untouchable patches of forest.

* There is no evidence that Kikori Pacific or WWF has achieved

any forest conservation where the loggers have interests.

* WWF has failed at getting hardly any local clans not to sign

with the TFI loggers even though WWF was present and spending

several million US dollars to help the people of this area.

* The first manager of Kikori Pacific came straight from the WWF-

USA building in Washington an individual Hank Cauley. He paid

himself very handsomely in salary and expenses even though the

company was not making profit.  This follows the common American

CEO model.

* Mainly Ivir Timber sawmilling operation was selling regularly

to Kikori Pacific.  Although mentioned as being community owned,

reports are stronger that it is run by a local strongarm

businessman who pockets most money and shares little with his


* Even though local villagers would make more money sawing their

own timber, Kikori Pacific encouraged selling round logs.  This

let Kikori Pacific earn more money from that timber, a foremost

consideration for any profit-making company that puts people in

second place.


We were glad to be able to play a role to help fill in those well

known but overlooked details on WWF’s highly successful and

beneficial eco-forestry project in Papua New Guinea.  Maybe WWF

would like to revise their web site and include the above factual



When a reporter brought up the mangrove logging issue to a WWF

USA director, Dr Jared Diamond in 2000, we can credit a lack of

sleep for Dr Diamond’s truthful response.  When asked if WWF

should be doing such things as illegal mangrove logging in Papua

New Guinea, he told a reporter that regardless of whether it is

illegal "if it can be done on a sustainable basis then by all

means do it".   Naturally, Dr Diamond took back his words as soon

as he woke up, and many layers of WWF replies followed to cover

up Dr Diamond’s first words.


WWF handling of the mangrove logging scandal in Papua New Guinea

has been so outstanding that it received an award, being named

one of the “Issued Without Good Sense (IWOGS) Medal of Dishonor

Organization” on the internet (www.wwwco.com/~dda/iwogorgs.php

<http://www.wwwco.com/~dda/iwogorgs.php>).  WWF received this

honor “for their handling of an eco-forestry project they run in

Papua New Guinea.”


Although as we read in the WWF pages that the Kikori Pacific

project is of rousing success, after the mangrove scandal became

widely known, Kikori Pacific replied to the press in response to

the controversy following the revelations that it would slowly

phase out its logging operations in PNG.  Sometimes this is

another way of saying that the company would leave town quickly

before further embarrassments surfaced.


An article by David Orr Jr published by the organization

Counterpunch (www.counterpunch.org <http://www.counterpunch.org>)

on the internet, has taken WWF statements such as that the

original story was “so grossly misleading and distorted as to

represent sloppy journalism at its worse,” and provided enough

information to make us now understand that when WWF makes such

complaints it probably means that another journalist has happened

on to the truth.


Such statements in these modern times must lead one to be very

suspect of what might be going on behind the scenes.  However in

the case of the highly successful Kikori Pacific eco-forestry

project, we are happy to report that absolutely nothing is going

on behind the scenes today.  This highly successful operation (as

reported by WWF) is no more, leaving only a cheerful sign in the

village of Kikori as its memorial.


We hope to help WWF further in the future and provide many

missing details to their press releases and web sites.  We send

our warmest greetings to the Giant Panda.



11.  Creating New Partnerships


WWF PNG has always seen the importance of working well not only

with people in the community, but government as well and has

recently achieved new standards of excellence in a developing



In recent years, Dr Wari Iamo, an anthropologist by profession

who seems to know little about conservation, yet is the managing

Secretary for the Office of Environment and Conservation, has

become well known to the public in PNG.  This is not so much

through his speeches and activities in conservation but through

occasional articles in the newspapers that have reported on

various strange uses of funds or apparent deals under the table

which involve him.  While some of the worst allegations have now

been confirmed by the PNG Ombudsman in a report highly critical

of Dr Iamo and recommending his termination, Dr Iamo denies

everything and remains the top conservation government officer in

the country.  Allegations of kickbacks for environmental impact

assessments, logging permit approvals, mis-use of funds for a

global warming program, and other strange doings are small

footnotes in Dr Iamo’s street CV.  


However, Dr Wari Iamo is of some importance to WWF because he

severely criticized the mangrove logging and commissioned a

government investigation into the practice.  The WWF PNG offices

are former OEC offices for which they pay no rent.  WWF requires

Dr Iamo’s services for various ceremonies and rubberstamps for

some WWF activities.  It is in WWF’s best interest to support an

official of even dubious character and tarnished reputation. 

Conversely it is in Dr Iamo’s interest to put WWF in a position

where Dr Iamo can put pressure on WWF to do his bidding.  This

kind of relationship between corrupt official and international

NGO can be described as a synergistic or mutalistic partnership.


Recently WWF needed Dr Iamo’s support for its Ecoregion office in

Madang, an interesting place full of little understood words and

concepts available to be taught to villagers.  Quite by accident,

Dr Iamo was called by WWF to accept a special award on behalf of

PNG.  This happens to be WWF’s highest award, the "Earth

Certificate” of its "Gift to the Earth" programme.  PNG was

awarded this prize for efforts to protect important and

threatened wetlands, although the actual efforts being awarded

might be undermined by light analysis.  It was essential that a

PNG government conservation representative be present to accept

the award.


Dr Iamo enjoys overseas travel, despite a long standing financial

crunch in the government, and recently was in the newspapers

again for the disaster that befell him on the way to an important

South African conference where he was to make a presentation. 

For reasons completely beyond his control, he became stranded in

Singapore where he managed to salvage the disaster by going on an

expensive shopping spree, documented later by immigration

officials inspecting Dr Iamo’s baggage.  The extensive travel

allowance he brought for his South Africa expenses, was, of

course, not returned.  Despite many efforts, he was unable to

claim a seat on any of the many planes headed for Africa, so that

he might attend at least the closing ceremonies.


WWF has been able to accommodate Dr Iamo’s travel itch by paying

his way to Bali, Indonesia to accept the prestigious WWF award.  

Although during my trip to Bali, the biodiversity rich forests in

the area escaped me, it was fitting that WWF meet in such a

location and bring its award recipients to sample the Bali

wildlife first hand.


I believe a good time was had by all and would like to take this

opportunity to offer my personal salute to WWF PNG and Dr Wari

Iamo for forming such a fruitful relationship.



12.  WWF Hidden Agenda


Land is life to Papua New Guineans and the country’s unique laws

protecting customary ownership has had resource and land

exploiters searching for underhanded ways to take the resources

without technically taking the land.  Land mobilization has

become the cry of government and big business to develop the

mechanisms necessary to wrest control of PNG’s resources from the

customary landowners.  WWF follows the sneakiness of the foreign

conservation NGOs in general in PNG with deception and lies, as

can be seen in the leaked memo discussed in this recent article


Papua New Guinea Groups Split with WWF Over Forests 

By Bob Burton

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea, April 1, 2003 (ENS) - Protests

from five Papua New Guinea environmental and legal groups have

prompted the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to reconsider

support for the controversial land mobilization policies of the

World Bank and a proposed high level forest summit on forest


A leaked WWF South Pacific proposal revealed the organization

wanted World Bank funding for a proposed forest summit aimed at

building support for eco-forestry and better forest management in

PNG, the Solomon Islands and the Indonesian province of Papua,

but intended to keep the source of the funding secret.

The eight page memo proposed seeking funding from the World

Bank’s Forests of Life program, which was jointly established

with WWF five years ago. However, WWF proposed that the role of

the World Bank referred to by the acronym ‘WB’ should be


“The WB alliance logo or name be kept out completed [sic] from

the communication and other media that is released by WWF offices

both in Papua, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands,” the memo




13.  Maybe Someone Should Consult The Natives


The only Papua New Guineans working for WWF, CI and TNC who still

think they’re in charge are either puppets or fools. Another

leaked email showing hidden agendas:



From: Rodney Taylor

Sent: Thursday, February 06, 2003 8:49 PM

To: Biringer, Jennifer

Cc: Anwar

Subject: Re: additional funding for USAID Indonesia project




We had always imagined that the PG model would extend to Papua in

future years. We are also extending the forest conversion

initiative to Papua and plan to do HCVF mapping, partnerships

with oil palm companies to develop BMPs etc. Also DIFID will fund

WWF Indonesia to do forestry stuff in both the Birdshead and

Lorentz  From the PNG side the Ekofrestri forum has been involved

in some missions to Papua to see if their approach could be

extended to the Papua side of the border. The Ekoforestri forum

have also done a lengthy feasibility study for a certification

extension service. If prospects are good we could develop a

simple concept for a Papua Leg to the Alliance - essentially

extending the PG membership there (like Java teak part of current

proposal) and some dialogue with investors etc (like current Riau

leg of the project). We may be able to indirectly fund PNG

activities under the guise of amplifying the Ekoforestri Forum by

enlisting their help to run a smallholder extension and

certificatiojn service in Papua and/or supporting the proposed

New Guinea summit.


These are quick thoughts and I would need to consult closely with

WWF Indonesia and WWF South Pacific to develop them further.


What next?




"Biringer, Jennifer" jennifer.biringer@WWFUS.ORG

<mailto:jennifer.biringer@WWFUS.ORG> 02/07 6:54 AM


Hi Rod,


Nigel gave me updates on the interview with Marky, Debby and Fred

from USAID during the week.


Essentially, it looks like we are automatically set for 2 and 3

year funding without having to submit any new proposals. They

aren't sure exactly what we will need to turn in, but perhaps

just the regular reports will be sufficient. They'll get back to

us on this. No new timeline as of yet.


There is a possibility for additional funding (amazing the change

a week makes!). However there would need to be a new component -

either geographically or a new partner, etc. One interesting

possibility just came my way in the form of a colleague here who

mentioned that Adam Tomasek (point person here for Papua/PNG) is

looking for funding on community certification projects there.

Apparently there is no restricted funding or bilateral funding

going there at the moment so he is keen to find something.


A new proposal would need to be prepared, as an addendum to our

project. And I'm assuming Adam would be willing to undertake this

(though I haven't spoken with him yet). What are your thoughts?

Might this be a nice fit to our project given that Papua/PNG is

where deforestation trends are shifting? Note GDA funds aren't to

be used in PNG, though if we could prove transboundary

issues/solutions then this might work with Papua as the grounding



We'd need to get word to Nigel by Feb. 17th.





14.  PNG Government Sellout To Foreigners


The PNG Office in Washington DC has a web site and the page of

interest is:  www.pngembassy.org/frenviro.htm.  This web page

shows clearly how these international NGOs push their foots into

the door.  Quote: “In response to international and local outcry

many conservation groups and non- governmental organizations have

begun to move into PNG to help with a multitude of issues. It is

very hard to fully understand or appreciate the impact these

organizations are having on PNG, but one thing is certain, it

would be difficult in this day and age for countries in similar

standing with PNG to do without them.”


Of the 8 NGOs mentioned on this page, only 4 are based only in

PNG and truly local NGOs.   Three of these local NGOs barely get

their name mentioned and only because of their connections to

helping out foreign NGOs with their activities.  


The most PNG of all these NGOS, East New Britain Sosel Eksen

Komiti is the only NGO mentioned where the writing is not in bold

type. Greenpeace activities in Collingwood Bay, Oro Province get

quite a lot of space. But no mention at all is made of the PNG

NGO that is doing 99% of this work in Collingwood Bay.  It is

known as Conservation Melanesia.  Greenpeace activities get 100%



Out of 1,993 words in this Papua New Guinean web page talking

about NGO activities, 1,783 (90%) refer only to the foreign NGOs

and their work. The only local NGO to get much mention, Pacific

Heritage Foundation is only mentioned here in detail because of a

project where they got American funding through a program

operated out of WWF offices.  There is a link on that discussion

to reach that American program which gave the funding.


This PNG government web page is an insult and sell out to all

Papua New Guineans.  It is not a web page to help PNG but instead

exploits PNG and its wildlife to help out these foreign NGOs. 

The PNG Embassy seems to have completely sold out to the

foreigners in an attempt to get something for nothing in terms of

a web site.


This PNG government web page ends with a final quote that shows

the colonialism nature of the writers:   “With the pressures to

industrialize and modernize many developing nations like Papua

New Guinea are faced with an identity crisis. It is true,

however, that organizations like the ones here can help to

relieve this pressure.”  Point being that Papua New Guineans are

in very desperate need of these foreign NGOs to help out.


It is said that the PNG Embassy was offered by someone associated

with one of the foreign NGOs to write all this up for them. 

Papua New Guineans did not write this and it is on an official

PNG government web page.  What a very sorrowful sight!



15.  Natural Development of Indigenous Organisations Is Being



The Issue


Outside influence is destructively affecting the natural way

indigenous organizations have developed.


The concern is that this process will cause long lasting if not

permanent damage to the development of more lasting indigenous



Most international bodies probably have little comprehension of

these damaging effects.  


The donors do not seem to see the destruction their funding of

the expansion of international nongovernmental organizations is

having on the long term development of indigenous ones.


In Papua New Guinea the conservation NGOs are by far the biggest

contributors to this destructive process.


I explain for their benefit why this issue is so important.



Origin of Sustainable, Indigenous NGOs


In Australia and elsewhere in countries the world looks at today

as being economically developed, the first NGOs began as small

community organizations.


These included church and social groups, sewing clubs, local

irrigation districts, school support organizations, etc.  These

are equivalent to what we now call community NGOs.


Rarely was there any outside involvement in the creation,

support, planning, or activities of these groups.  No outside

politician challenged the communities to create those groups as a

recipient for assistance.


Instead, the ideas for the group came from the community.  The

organization came into existence because of a bottleneck faced by

the community.  The community either faced a problem or they felt

the lack of something in their lives.


This problem caused hardship and that hardship motivated people

to get together.  They were motivated to talk about doing

something to solve the problem they were facing.


Part of their solution was to organize themselves.  No one

organized them or challenged them to organize themselves.  The

idea came from within them. 


If they saw an organization as a logical piece of the overall

strategy to solve their problems, they started an organization. 


When an organization was formed it tended to consist of people

informally meeting and little more.  Giving the group a name was

only important if it gave the people something to unify around. 

Little symbolism beyond that was invented for these early

community NGOs. 


Those early organizations were not registered.  Often they had no

by-laws or constitution, no policy and procedures manual,

sometimes no officers.   No proposals or progress reports, nor

planning documents.  People spoke to each other to educate and

communicate and plan.


This describes the natural process of developing an indigenous

NGO.  The organization is started by the people themselves in

response to a pressing problem. They develop what you need to

develop to solve the problem and nothing more.  They do not

follow the guidelines, procedures or recommendations of an

outside body although they may solicit outside ideas and pick and

choose from that which is provided.


Because of this process, everyone in the community knew the

purpose of the organization and how the organization was

attempting to address the problem.   No workshops were needed to

explain things because the whole idea that came out of early

community discussions.


These original community groups were often short of resources.

When this shortage directly and seriously affected the abilities

of that organization to function, it created a motivation and

drive within the local people to be innovative in finding

solutions to this shortage.   Struggle and hardship built



When infrastructure was created, that hardship and 100% community

involvement created automatic motivation to look after whatever

was created.   The community was wholly responsible for

sustainment or maintenance of any new developments or activities. 

Infrastructure was maintained automatically because the process

by which it was created was a natural one.


When success came to the community, the success was genuinely

100% theirs. Accordingly they could rejoice.   That success and

resulting pride built greater confidence to take on larger

community challenges. 


Greater challenges required more complex growth and development,

one step at a time.  But time was there for people to think

about, plan and master these new complexities.  Thus, failure

rates were minimized.  Fewer failures led to more confidence and

more progress.


Governments grew in much the same way.   Local groups to build

local toll roads or ferries later developed into departments of

transportation.  Small general stores remained that way for

generations, and only as capacity grew did they grow and build

branch stores and grow into corporations.  In all cases, the

process was natural and not pushed along or assisted by outside



In the city environments back then, the same natural process

occurred.  Local city groups and clubs were founded only in

response to problems, issues, and hardships serious enough that

it motivated people to come together.  “Club” would be the best

word to describe these sustainable, motivated, functional and

achieving NGOs.  Clubs exist for a purpose, they stay simple in

structure, and they are nearly always created by local people

themselves.  They last and are effective because they developed




Destructive Assistance to Developing Countries Like PNG


The examples given in the last section tell the story of how very

successful and sustainable organisations came about.  


Starting as local groups in rural areas or cities, they gradually

became functional on a larger scale.  They were ruled completely

from within the country.


People in the economically developed countries of today forget

their own origins.  They have come to overlook the lasting power

of this kind of slow and steady development that was critical to

their own success.


This recipe for success so responsible for great progress in

developed countries is not being provided in developing



Instead, destructive mechanisms and types of assistance of the

opposite kind are being given. 


Destructive devices include offering money and other gifts to

village groups.  That encourages local groups to form for the

main purpose of receiving assistance.   Reasons for forming the

group are often invented and not based on real problems.  If it

had been a real problem, the group probably would have existed



Even a contribution in kind demand does not erase the destructive

influence of these gifts on village initiative.   Any

infrastructure created through those means is usually not

maintained because of the damage done to the local initiative.


Consider how many of the first so called PNG NGOs came about in

the country.  They began through heavy expat involvement.  These

organisations were not the idea of Papua New Guineans.


When the international NGOs set up shop, this compounded and

expanded a process that is not natural and has not been known to

produce lasting results, except for permanent dependencies. 


The idea for local offices of international NGOs did not come

from a struggling group from within PNG.


In most cases, these organizations came to PNG ready with ideas,

plans, and policies.


They bought their way into acceptability with promises of



The result is like an outside company building a new facility

inside a place where they have never been before.  Papua New

Guineans have so far not evidenced a strong driving sense of

ownership in these country offices.  Working for these NGOs is

like working for Steamships.  No number of reading materials or

meetings can provide the same sense of ownership for Papua New

Guineans as those in today’s economically developed countries

came to feel when they were forced to create everything from



Outside donors and NGOs press PNG groups to take on issues that

are more an idea inside a foreign brain than inside a Papua New

Guinean one. 


This violates the natural way that successful indigenous

organizations had begun in today’s economically developed



Outside donors institutionalize procedures and policy before the

NGO has faced the bottleneck itself and become motivated to find

its own workable and lasting solutions.


Ideas are suggested first from outside before the group has seen

the need enough to ask first.  This results in the ideas become

impositions.  Institutions become hollow with the outside ideas

and imposed rules and policies not being enforced or followed

within the organisation.


When outside NGOs and other aid agencies fund local groups so

they can pay their staff with competitive salaries, it attracts

people who are interested more in money than in sacrifice.


That is an artificial process that does not at all replicate the

way that successful organizations developed inside today’s

economically developed countries.


When local NGOs have to write plans and proposals in response to

the rules of outside donors, suddenly their activities are driven

more by what they think will be funded and less by what they once

saw as the problems that created their need for working within an

organizational framework.


This is a list of only a few of the processes being used by the

international conservation NGOs in PNG. 


None of it is following what had worked in their own countries,

when their countries were at PNG’s stage of development.


Instead, the main planning and thinking is done already by

outsiders, and local people are only called upon to rubberstamp

or slightly modify what has already been planned for them.


People in PNG like anywhere else can accept and adopt to that

situation successfully.  They can learn to work as told, and

receive paycheques in return.  From many vantage points,

everything seems to be working well. 


But the organizations they work for are artificial and did not

develop inside Papua New Guinea in a natural way.  Outside

reason, outside ideas, and outside assistance creates a

dependency on outside. 


Out of that little real commitment or involvement in working for

these groups can be seen in most of the staff.  They have learned

to repeat the right words on command.   Examining more closely

their sacrifice and dedication to the organization suggests a

different story.


People point to the existence of these international NGOs in PNG

and say how happy they are that they are helping the country. 

But look closely and very little in PNG society is changing.  The

problems are getting worse not better.  It is almost impossible

to see anything that one of these NGOs has done which has really

got people thinking and turning things around.   Their impact is

so slight as to be unnoticeable and yet the money spent funding

their staff and activities is in the millions.


The kind of support we get from outside to assist the development

of PNG NGOs is destructive.  It discourages sustainable, slow

growth while encouraging fast change and growth that is too fast.


This leads to failure and collapse, discouragement, loss of

confidence and pride, and all other qualities so necessary for



However the local offices of the international NGOs will survive

because they are created on a foundation of complete dependency. 

Any indications of independence are token.


The moment a few people try to get together today in PNG to form

a group and volunteer their efforts, immediately someone else

will call them stupid for not learning how to write grants or get

money from government, AUSAID or other donors.   The

international NGOs encourage this way of thinking. 


A community that tries to save its own money to build its own

water supply is made fun of by the next door community that found

they could get money to buy their water supply for no work at all

from AUSAID Community Development Scheme. 


The international NGOs are promoting these kinds of destructive

thinking.  They encourage people to sacrifice as little as

possible in order to get something for nothing from outside. 

They encourage more of the following:


Youth form sports groups and youth clubs today in PNG foremost to

get money.


Ask people to volunteer and often they will laugh or call you

stupid.  They say why should anyone volunteer and do

environmental awareness like a poor one.  Instead you can work

for CI or WWF and get paid.   This really gets discouraging. It

makes you want to give up if you believe in something and just

get a job like your friends and work for the money.


These are examples of how the international conservation NGOs are

destroying PNG.   None of this follows how successful NGOs came

about in developed countries or best practices on how local

people have been able to solve their own problems most



Those who give foreign aid to PNG as well as international NGOs

that have put offices here are contributing to this problem and

making it worse.  They are destroying the efforts of those who

want to follow what worked in the developed countries, starting

very slow and simple, and responding to an immediate problem

being faced.


Maybe there are a few exceptions to that rule.  They are

exceptions.  The general rule about these NGOs is that they are

having a destructive influence on the development of our country.



16.  How To Hoodwink The Donors.  Lessons from the field


The ludicrously of the relationship the green imperialists have

nurtured with the big donors is highlighted whenever a donor rep

comes to PNG to see what’s going on. It’s no challenge at all to

keep them in the dark and for the benefit of those little PNG

NGOs that remain, we’d like to provide instructions on how to do

it.  By the way, make sure your staff doesn’t snicker in front of

the donors as they see the comedy unfold.  This is serious stuff!


When the donor rep arrives, begin with an introduction meeting. 

Make sure that any troublemakers aren’t invited or are strongly

encouraged to keep their trap shut.  If the donor rep starts

asking too many questions, cut the meeting short.  Be sure the

office walls have lots of pretty posters on the wall to impress.

Or cover the walls with pictures of happy villagers dancing

through the forest as they practice conservation.

Don’t forget the big map that shows all the conservation that has

been achieved either, you’ll need to refer back to that during

the helicopter ride.  After that appetizer, the main course is

the donor rep’s short visit to the village (heaven forbid that

they would have to stay overnight).  It’s important to spend more

time flying over the forest than to talk substantively with

anyone on the ground.  Make sure a minder always accompanies the

donor rep. It needs to be someone gifted at putting a “spin”

deemed necessary, and arrange beforehand for a dance and a gift. 

The village spivs who managed to lock into the project long ago

for whatever they can milk out of it - big projects always

attract spivs like flies to cows - will happily put on whatever

show is necessary, whipping into shape any sullen bretheran.  The

donors will never know what’s going on behind the scenes, and

besides, they’re probably mostly worried about getting good photo

ops.  If any donor rep has the audacity to ask questions of the

villagers, make sure the people are prepared.

It’s not necessary for villagers to be able to converse

intelligently about the wise use of their resources.  All they

have to do is be able to speak a few impressive phrases: “WWF

has been wonderful to us” “we want to look after our wildlife”

“if we only had jobs, we would save even more forests” and “we

hate the loggers”.  


By the time the visit is over, the putrid smell of deception and

tomfoolery would make any ethical person gag.   Donors such as

UNDP, The Moore Foundation, and AUS AID must know this con game

by now.  So why do they continue to blindly shovel money down

these conservation black holes thus creating a institution of

thinking that this is the only way to do conservation?  


Will the big donors ever learn to critically question and analyse

the snowjob they’re given by the big boy conservation groups

instead of radiating the ever-present “hear no evil, see no

evil, speak no evil” policy?  



17.  Process


My view of what happens in PNG follows.

The foundations give money for a conservation project

The NGO spends the money but nothing comes out of it

The NGO covers up the waste by saying they accomplished a lot

The foundation believes and gives more money to them

The NGO wastes it again and keeps trying to cover up

Finally the foundation finds out their money was wasted

People working for the foundation get discouraged and sad about

what they see

They try to find another NGO that won’t waste but they don’t have

much time to look 

They must get rid of their money quickly and write their


They find the best they can in a short time and support that new


Most of their money is wasted again but maybe now they find an

uncommon success story and focus on that one to compliment

themselves on money well spent 

Sometimes the success story is also a failure just that the facts

were covered up better

It is like lotto game to these foundations.  There are very few

winners but the foundations become blind to what is going around

all over.

Instead they keep talking only about what they think are success


This blindness encourages the losers to pretend themselves to be

more like the few winners.

It is blindness because these foundations do not really

understand themselves how it all works.

NGO will do whatever it has to do and dance the dance to get the


Maybe they do not understand or maybe they do not want to


Doing things slowly and grassroots way is the only way to make a

real development



18.  More Productive Alternatives (If The Donors Cared) 


Support is still needed for conservation activities in PNG!  

Donors can support conservation and development initiatives in

Papua New Guinea in positive ways. 


Stop supporting a model and activity that has already repeatedly

failed because that makes your assistance destructive instead of

being constructive.  Suspicion is growing that many major donors

don’t care or are unmotivated to change their own outlook in ways

that will bring improvement.


Most if not all who have contributed to this package of essays do

want to be constructive.  Do not blame them for tearing their

hair out at the continued, apparent blindness of the donors, as

well as the stubbornness of the international NGOs operating in

PNG to remain permanent colonialists.


There are many good areas where donors could burn through big

money quickly which doesn’t involve so much waste and overhead,

and actually might achieve something lasting.   A few examples

are thrown out for consideration and debate that have been

gathered by the collaborators.


-promote open society initiatives that can effectively spread

information throughout PNG society on conservation and

development issues.   Support whatever will significantly

increase access and availability of information and transparency

in PNG.  These are basic needs that if addressed can make many

obstacles to conservation in a developing country such as PNG

fall away.  If they are not dealt with conservation will never be

genuinely be achieved in PNG.


-support work that directly addresses unequal power relationships

that result from international market incorporation.  Is not this

the main threat to communities and their environment in PNG

instead of villager lack of education?  Apart from Greenpeace,

what international NGO has ever tried to put most of its

resources into education programmes that can counteract the

pillage of forest and marine resources by foreign interests?   In

some cases their policies prevent them from ever taking on this

role.  In that case, they do not belong in PNG because they will

only continue to waste money on sidelines and ignore the core


-support education initiatives that focus on bottom line issues

affecting PNG’s resources (overpopulation, etc.), rather than

community conservation projects that degenerate into cargo



-support getting out extensive information on how destructive

certain land uses (mining, nonsustainable logging, oil palm etc)

have affected PNG biodiversity and natural resources.  Only after

that is proven effective should donors support compromisers such

as WWF who want to find ways to make these destructive activities

less destructive, or bad behaving operations into better behaving

ones.  You may be surprised


- many clans may decide they don’t want any of these activities,

whether they’re more destructive or less so, period.  They’re not

interested once they hear all the pros and cons.   How local

communities respond depend greatly on how information was

provided to them and what sense of respect they feel the

providers really have for the local communities.   Any

multinational conservation NGO that is not able to take on this

crucial activity should not even be operating in PNG.


-only support expat salaries and consultancies if directly

involved in training.  Not just 1 workshop either. Extended



-find good resource people with proven achievement in stimulating

good people throughout PNG, and support ways where their

activities and style can be promoted as national role models. 

Start by finding Papua New Guineans who have voluntarily worked

with communities on their own to achieve good things, without

seeking attention and status, or affiliations with bigger groups. 

Don’t even bother looking in most NGOs, international and

indigenous, to find such people.  That would be the last place to

find them.


-support programs on ‘non sexy’ phenomena that are severely

damaging PNG’s biological diversity.  Certain invasive alien

species are spreading unimpeded in parts of PNG.   Expanding

deforestation caused by fire and gardening is a major problem in

certain areas, and the population growth rate


-get more books into PNG’s libraries.  Get more resource

materials into the hands of teachers and let those educators

create the educational materials they need. Focus mainly on

getting them facts and figures of relevance.


-challenge Papua New Guinean minds to think and develop their own

solutions, instead of nurturing, supporting, leading, or pushing

that intelligence as if they were babies.  Papua New Guineans who

become motivated enough to see different conservation issues as a

concern will be motivated enough to form their own groups, find

their own resources, etc., just like people in other parts of the

world have done.   They do not need any international NGOs except

as a source of challenging and thought provoking information.


-instead of supporting puppet operation offices controlled from

outside PNG, support NGOs that are not an arm of any foreign

group or have mostly foreigners as directors.  Work with these

indigenous groups closely, possibly for a long time.  Make them

accountable and carefully monitor use of funds.  Your support

role may be strong, particularly in management, that sometimes it

will be resented.  Listen to their good arguments and modify the

approach as necessary, but don’t accept mis-use of money or

mismanagement.  If you support those local organisations

effectively and for a nurturing period of time, you will make a

major difference.  Your assistance as a donor will contribute to

a much overdue and long needed building of capacity of the very

groups that are most likely to make the real changes in PNG

society that lead to more sustainable use of natural resources. 

These groups are not the puppet arms of the multinational



-support local NGO initiatives that address issues.  Don’t worry

about whether their techniques fit your objectives.  Worry more

about overlap of their objectives with yours. Evaluate whether

that NGO has the capacity to carry out those particular

strategies and techniques, or has found ways to build its

capacity to do so.  Look around to see if the strategy to be

utilized has worked elsewhere, or not worked. Share with the NGO

information you have access to that can help them plan. Be a true

partner with them and provide information but after they have

considered all information let them decide what strategy is best

to address the issue.


-is Papua New Guinea better off with a handful of paid national

professional conservationists, or a legion of thousands of Papua

New Guineans who do conservation as a part-time, voluntary

activity?  If you want the last kind of person, stop creating and

paying more of the former through your donor support!   Nearly

everything that people are being paid to do (and very

inefficiently) right now in the upper middle class staffed

offices of these multinational conservation organisations could

be done by volunteers, who are more motivated and more efficient.  

They will need some support (e.g., transportation) but not too

much and do not destroy their motivation by spoiling them. 

Encourage and nurture them to find more like themselves and

create their own institutions.  The government’s National

Volunteer Service is evidence that there are more willing Papua

New Guinean volunteers than there are positions for them.  Stop

supporting the creation of more upper middle class PNG jobs

within these conservation organisations when it is more effective

to provide direct assistance to the average type of grassroots

Papua New Guinean including women and youth.



19.  Papua New Guineans Are Capable


Donors, learn what the word spiv means.  Its an Australian term,

look it up.   There are many excellent Papua New Guineans out

there. They could lead local NGOs and do great things.  But those

kinds of people usually get pushed aside by the kind of NGO

donors like you tend to support.  The good people in PNG aren’t

politician people but concerned ones. The problem is that

politics increasingly rules the day in PNG and in many NGOs too

so the people who get ahead in these organisations are often

political types. The ones who play politics the best become the

winners in the kinds of NGOs you big donors tend to support.  It

is with these political types that you’ll first come in contact

with and are impressed by.  Any good people in these NGOs stay in

the background because they rarely try to impress with their

accomplishments or try to push their faces to the front.  Some

political people you donors come in contact with within the NGOs

are definitely corrupt and people here are well aware.  The

corruption is not surprising because the reason these characters

play politics is to gain power in the first instance.

Becoming boss of this kind of NGO leads to good perks such as a

nice car, money for televisions, and money for international

school fees.  All this is out of the range of most hard working

Papua New Guineans. The head of these kinds of NGOs are motivated

mostly by money so are easily tempted to steal and misuse NGO

resources. The stupid ones get caught but the smart ones are

harder to figure out and may escape detection. They are smart

talkers and have learned how to impress with the right words and

terms. The most common corruption device used by these NGO people

today is the kickback. Somehow the NGO head pays for something or

issues a contract to a relative or friend.  The recipient of the

work quietly returns part of the money as a fee or through

nonmonetary gifts.  Normal auditing practices never find this

corruption which allows the person to boost their power and

wealth by developing more extensive kickback schemes.  Donors

usually don’t catch the smart thieves within the NGO community

because they don’t look carefully enough at who they deal with.

The large donors supporting NGOs put far too much money into the

very kinds of NGOs that attract spivs and political types. 

Sometimes the donors unknowingly but directly support individuals

who were already corrupted by too many years in government.  You

can easily find out who these people are with any effort just ask

around.  The large donors are supporting and expanding a

particular kind of NGO structure that attracts these kinds of

people to apply.  Once in powerful positions the spivs find more

of their kind to fill out the organisation.  They want yessa

men and silent workers who won’t question any wrongdoing they


Sometimes a good person will be hired maybe by accident. Those

good people may end up corrupted themselves or they may give up

and stop performing.  The more the big donors continue to support

these kinds of NGOs, the bigger and more dominant these kinds of

NGOs will become. The more job positions will be available in the

NGO community for spivs.  More and more of the wrong kind of

person will flood the NGO community, while good Papua New

Guineans who could make a lot of difference will either never

have a chance or will get burned out and overwhelmed by their

surroundings.  How long would you stay ethical and committed if

you worked in an NGO where everyone spends their time talking

mostly money things?  Give good Papua New Guineans a chance to

show what they can do.  Stop supporting the kinds of NGOs that

attract the opposite kind of spivy Papua New Guineans.



20.  Do The Foreign Conservationists Believe Such Things In Their



- That Papua New Guineans cannot develop organizations on their

own thinkings and initiative and need to be lead from overseas?

- That Papua New Guineans cannot come to their own realizations

and ideas about conservation needs in PNG without being spoonfed

information or having foreign scientists coming in and telling us

what our problems are?

- That Papua New Guineans cannot figure out how to do most things

on their own, when we see the need?

- That we have no brains to seek out and find the skills we need

in conservation today, yet we were able to survive nicely without

foreign help for many thousands of years?  

- That we need these foreign CIs WWFs TNCs DKWs and AKSIZs kind

of organizations to spoon feed us and baby us which only attracts

lazy Papua New Guineans that will not do things on their own?



21.  Advice to Donors


In my darkest moments I wonder how many representatives of such

foundations as Ford, MacArthur, Gates, Packard, etc., would have

looked and looked and found some good in Pol Pot’s leadership

they could support.  Of course you donor reps must be frustrated

at how difficult it is to put money to good uses.  It has to be a

challenging job which I don’t envy.  Maybe the only way you see

yourself not becoming a diehard cynic is to take the higher road

and always see the bright side of everything. 


Of course you must get very frustrated but many of us who are

trying to dedicate our time to good things are frustrated too. 

We’re frustrated when you show us glazed smiles, when you gloss

over the worst cases of mismanagement, misappropriation and

downright incompetence while commenting on our lovely office

décor, or a few good things that happened probably in spite of it



We don’t want your most pressing concern to be how much money you

can get rid of when your foundation files its tax papers.   We

want your biggest concern to be finding more and better people,

groups and initiatives to give your money to.   Set high

standards and don’t lower them.  If you can’t find enough of

those good investments, please then consider spending your money

in ways that can create more good people.  There is always a

solution, that’s why we wonder sometimes why you let yourself

sink into the same old problem.


Donor reps, maintain your positive outlook.  We welcome it.  At

the same time, please spend more time digging at the reality that

lies beneath.   One colleague told the rest of us recently about

a donor rep she knew who would write a strong, positive reference

letter for any NGO people they came in contact with.  The problem

was, whether the person was good or bad, they still got the good

reference letter.   No one knows why this rep was so uncritical. 

Maybe they thought their actions brightened peoples lives.  In

any case the damage caused by those letters was substantial.  Bad

people were hired in good organizations based on those letters in

at least one case, and the organization suffered as a result. 


Please don’t do things like that as you investigate how to invest

your money in PNG.  Stop letting yourself be bamboozled by the so

called model projects or the propagandized village visits and for

heavens sake, stop glossing over big problems in your interest of

highlighting strengths.  We’re not saying to overlook the

strengths, just realise that single weaknesses can destroy

projects and organizations that had multiple strengths.  Call a

spade a spade and do it to our face. If you don’t have the guts

send someone from your foundation who can be truthful and

critical, while caring.


Stop giving money so unquestionably to the international NGOs.

Critically and in depth explore what they’re doing and how

they’re doing it.  Stop funding giant projects.  They fail every



Start spending some of your overhead to understand better Papua

New Guinea’s needs.  Find people who have really thought about

these things and bounce back ideas off enough of them that no one

of them colors your perspective too much.     


Most of all, realize that it is nonsustainable to create

organizations in a developing country in the image of those that

have grown and matured over many years in developed countries. 

Simplicity, grassroots, and small should be your words of

guidance if you want to contribute to something that really



For your consideration.



22.  Reaction?


Now the cat is out of the bag and more people are joining this

effort.   It’s not that the big boys in Washington, Sydney and

Glanz don’t know everything that you’ve read in these essays. 

They know their projects are failing.  They know that money is

being wasted, why else would they move so quickly to keep the

outright stealing from becoming public? 


At least we know the strategy the big boys use.  First they’ll

ignore this publicity, hoping the smell will go away.  If it

doesn’t or if it comes on real strong real fast, they've got

their PR units ready to stomp out any hint of failure or

criticism and kick down the doors of dissension like veritable

Gestapo agents.  Whitewash after all is their middle name.  

They’re more likely to erase and purge than they are to confront,

debate and learn.  Their biggest concern is to keep the money

flowing and avoid embarrassment.  Will they continue to prove

themselves as being more part of the problem rather than being

part of a solution?


Will the big boys quickly move to purge this material from the

internet so there is no chance that they will be EMBARRASSED? 

Will they continue to prove themselves as  being more part of the

problem rather than being part of a solution?   We know that

after an incomplete draft of this collection of essays was

leaked, a witchhunt began at CI like following recipe in a

cookbook.  CI stooges are showing themselves more interested in

finding out who did it, than to reflect upon the points we’ve

made.  But of course we forget: the purpose of witch hunts is not

to find solutions.


The big boys in Washington and Sydney have perfected ways to get

the big donors to eat out of the palms of their hands, and the

donors don’t even know it.  Yet, the decisions these donors are

making is destroying the very ingredients of sustainability-a

truly indigenous, truly PNG conservation movement, that begins

with the germination of a few seeds and over time develops into a

forest.  It will never happen as long as the big boys are in

town, though they’ll be armed with plenty of documents, colour

pictures and maps to try and prove otherwise.


The big donors know all this.   The content here won’t be new to

them either.  No, what will attract their attention and worry

them the most is the same thing as what affects the big boys. 

It’s the possibility of EMBARRASSMENT.  Of losing future ways to

attract MONEY.  That’s what they’re concerned with. 


The real power to change this horrible mess in Papua New Guinea

doesn’t lie in the hands of the big boys of conservation but in

the hands of the donors.  The donors could fess up and face up to

what’s going on. If it struck their fancy, they could learn to

become very critical and analytical of what the international

conservation NGOs are doing in PNG, and the subtle but far

reaching collateral damage that they’re causing to the long term

development of indigenous conservation NGOs whenever they fund

the idiocy that is now being supported.


Will the big donors continue to fund such idiocy?  Will they

dismiss all this as cynical bitterness (they’re ignoring the

suggestions), their own cynicism showing by that very statement?  

Time will tell.



23.  Country Office Predictions


“An interesting read indeed.  You’ll find soon enough how

they’ll react.  If the information and accusations are

threatening enough, their first response will be to find out who

is behind it and next to find ways to make themselves look

better.  Gloss will take precedence over substance, with little

attention spent tackling core problems.  Talk more with the field

staff because country directors can’t stifle their talk outside

the office. Frequently field and support staff resent country

directors for their constant travelings, and for doing so little

of the dirty work used to promote the successes of the NGO.


A second common reaction we saw over here was for the

international groups to actively develop ties with national ones. 

This dampens the criticism and effectively compromises the

national groups.  The international NGOS are able to use their

better financial positions to indirectly buy off the national

NGOS.  If the heads of the two kinds of NGO groups know each

other socially, that makes it easier still to suppress the



I caution you not to be too blind to the realities of the

national NGOs. Mismanagement levels are sometimes high.  Many are

run similar to the international NGOS and the staff may have

worked for both kinds of NGOS.  Carefully observe how they

respond to the international NGOS if you want to assess their

independence. They may be little different than the

internationals. Better to learn early. 


My last word of advice is not to expect significant change in

their way of doing business.  Apart from a brief and public

display of changing their ways, their low level of effectiveness

in the field will remain.  We try to stay completely away from

them because their influence contaminates us with bad habitats. 

It has been important for us to avoid any appearance of being

compromised by their offerings.”



24. Requiem


With the help of willing donors such as AUS-AID, UNDP, The

MacArthur Foundation, and The Moore Foundation, any possibility

of achieving lasting conservation of PNG’s biodiversity is being

destroyed in the here and now.  The continued unquestioning,

uncritical support these donors give to the international

conservation NGOs as they hand out the big bucks condemns the

people of PNG to increasingly look towards the big boys for help,

answers, and payouts conserve their tropical forests and coral

reefs.  No one has faith that Papua New Guineans are fully

capable of doing this for themselves without the big boys either

in the fore or the background.  In a zillion different subtle

ways, the big boys tell us that we need their help in PNG. After

we hear this enough times, we buy their line. They’re in.


The international conservation NGOs in PNG are proving to be a

model of how not to do either conservation or development.  They

violate fundamental laws of sustainable development again and

again glossing over such imperatives as the need to start small

and grow slowly. They conveniently ignore the fact that

initiatives must start from the bottom up if they’re to last. 

These NGOs have perfected the ability to the word participatory

in all their plans and conversations, yet they show incapability

of applying a truly participatory approach or bottom-up planning

style in anything they do at an organizational level.  This

blatent hypocrisy, which hardly anyone notices, much less

challenges, would be maddening if its implications weren’t so

tragic.  The conservation areas in PNG today are largely lines

drawn on the map.

There is no conviction on the ground for these silly things. 

They are merely figments of the imagination.


The big tragedy today in PNG is that the big donors are happily

giving beaucoup bucks to create mega-projects whose highest

priority is not so much to achieve conservation as it is to

become a giant incinerator that will burn through lots of cash

without the smoke stinking too much.  The “think big”

philosophy that is the principal poison of so many PNG

development collapses is nonetheless embraced by the big donors

and the conservation big boys.  That failed strategy is coming to

permeate the fabric of the NGO community like mildew, condemning

the entire conservation movement to work more and more in the

office and less and less with the people in whose hands the fate

of PNG’s forests and reefs lie, and perpetuating the dominance of

the green imperialists in PNG.


AUS-AID with its incentive fund, encourages NGOs to ask for more

money, burn more cash - assuming of course, that when the money

burns, any rotten smell will be masked.


TNC, CI, and WWF, driven by outside pressure either of their own

making or from timetables set by overseas donors, passively toe

the line, draw lines on maps and point to protected forests that

are superficially protected at best and sometimes complete

illusions.  Their efforts should be praised in that they seem to

have hoodwinked the donors completely. Either that or the donors

simply don’t care.  Pardon the observation, but it seems that the

big donors are primarily concerned with finding a money burner

that won’t put out a stink.  The big boy conservation groups

haven’t learned to stop the stink, but to the donor’s delight,

they have learned to use a variety of odor masking perfumes.    



RESPONSE FROM THE FIELD to criticism that this was a wrong

approach in PNG to tell the truth about CI, WWF and TNC:


1-“There was no value in criticizing like we’ve done before and

getting the same zero response in their patronizing attitude

towards PNG.” 

2-“The whingers who say we did it wrong don’t know what they’re

talking about.  Probably themselves they’ve never brought up

wrong doings in a way that actually threatened the criminals.”  

3-“.…The bosses never listen but will nod their heads yes then

do no every time just like the pollies.” 

4-“PNG is a small country so sometimes it’s hard to speak out

in public with opposing or controversial views when your

opponents have no desire to change. Instead they’ll start to see

you as the enemy and you may suffer every time you cross paths

with that person.  You can only stop the problem by making an

apology where you take back everything you said, even if it was

true. All you do then is support the corruptions.” 

5-“…Let the foreign NGOS respond according to our prediction so

the whole world will laugh at them and remember.”






56% effort: towards finding out which people wrote this-to stop

more truth from coming out.

18% effort: towards more PR in order to cover up the truth.

15% effort: towards stopping new leaks of the truth that would

further shame them.

10% effort: towards trying to make friends with local NGOs and

stop the criticism.

1% effort:   towards stopping their neocolonialism, wasted money,

false success stories & outright conservation failures.


All as predicted. These foreign NGOs show no ability to solve

their problems they're so busy all the time trying to cover up

and buying off people.




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