Stop the chainsaws: save the home of the Woodlark cuscus

The Woodlark cuscus, a nocturnal marsupial The Woodlark cuscus will face extinction if the island’s forests are cleared (photo: Eleanor Clapp) (© Eleanor Clapp)

This charming creature is the Woodlark cuscus, a marsupial that lives on Woodlark Island, a small tropical paradise off Papua New Guinea. The cuscus' sole habitat is in grave danger – please speak out to stop their forests from being felled for lumber and patio furniture.

Call to action

To: the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill, and the relevant authorities

Call off the logging project threatening Woodlark island.

Read letter

The destruction of Woodlark’s forests would be a crime against nature. More than 40 endemic plant and animal species would lose their habitat: frogs, reptiles, insects, snails and the Woodlark cuscus. Scientists believe that other as yet unknown species are also at home there.

Karridale Limited, a Malaysian company, has already set up logging camps and landed machinery on the island. “They’re just waiting for the word ‘go’,” says Simon Piyuwes, a local medical doctor who is leading the struggle against the destruction of his island home. “I’m so exhausted and depressed at the thought of losing Woodlark’s nature to plunderers.”

Karridale wants to clear at least 17,600 hectares of forest – around one quarter of the island –, but locals fear that the company has its eye on more than half of the island’s forests.

A leading elder of Woodlark’s Malasi Clan says only a minority of the islander community approved the project, while the general population was kept in the dark until very late. The company’s permits are dubious at best.

It’s not too late to stop the project, as the response to a planned gold mine on Woodlark has shown: Governor Titus Philemon criticized the “dismal and half-hearted” efforts by government agencies to inform the islanders about the environmental impact of the three planned open-pit mines and put a stop to the project until the peoples' concerns are addressed.

Simon Piyuwes is hoping for outside support, as in 2008 when a palm oil company wanted to clear the island’s forests for a plantation. With international backing, the locals managed to convince the company to abandon the project.

On their own, the 6,000 inhabitants do not have the resources to avert the destruction of their home. They need our support. Please speak out on their behalf and sign our petition.

Back­ground Letter

To: the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill, and the relevant authorities

Dear Prime Minister O’Neill,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 6,000 inhabitants of Woodlark live in harmony with the ancient forests of their island home. Those forests provide habitat for at least 42 endemic species, including the Woodlark cuscus. Scientists are certain that many more species still await discovery on the island.

Nevertheless, Karridale Limited, a Malaysian company, wants to clear at least 17,600 hectares of forest, a fifth of the entire island. The islanders – the majority of whom reject the project – believe that the company has its eye on more than twice that area.

Many of the locals feel overwhelmed and are deeply concerned about the future of their home. Researchers fear that the project will inevitably lead to the extinction of numerous species that rely on the island’s forest as their habitat.

We therefore call on you to take the concerns of the Woodlark Islanders seriously and put a stop to the project. Thank you.

Sincerely,

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