Bismarck Ramu Group
Synchronicity Earth has provided core support for Bismarck Ramu Group’s forest, freshwater and ocean campaign since 2014.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is home to the world’s third largest tract of contiguous rainforest and boasts immense coastal biodiversity. More than 800 languages are spoken on the island and most peoples’ lives are intricately connected with nature. Traditionally, 97 per cent of PNG’s land is held under customary tenure and managed by local communities. This system has allowed the country’s remote and inaccessible forest to remain largely intact. The recent introduction of 99-year ‘Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABLs)’ has enabled the government to ‘rent’ more than 11% of the land to large logging, mining and agricultural companies who are destroying forests and polluting freshwater and marine ecosystems. Experimental seabed mining off the coast of PNG presents an additional threat to PNG’s marine life. Companies looking for ‘natural resources’ are offering seemingly lucrative deals to a government that has not fully considered the implications of trading primordial ecosystems for cash.
Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG) mobilises communities, including youth and church groups, to campaign on local and national issues including terrestrial and seabed mining and large-scale land acquisitions. It also promotes a vision of an alternative development for PNG, which respects peoples’ connection with land and nature, for instance through support for local food and seed festivals.
BRG’s most recent campaigns have focused on supporting communities to challenge:
- Exploratory seabed mining off the coast of Madang;
- the Ramu Nickel mine in North Madang which is polluting rivers, coastal ecosystems and people’s gardens, as well as having detrimental effects on local people’s health;
- the Chinese Frieda Mine which threatens the biodiversity and cultures of the Sepik River; and
- the government plans to establish tanneries in Madang which will pollute local marine ecosystems.