Tribute to a Pacific Leader

This week the Pacific and the world community lost a wonderful leader of sustainable forestry. Yati Bun from Papua New Guinea died suddenly while visiting a Pueblo community forest in the mountains of Mexico. Yati was travelling with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) of which he was an international board member.

I had the privilege of meeting him some years ago and in that one night was inspired by his extraordinary commitment to striving for an alternative to destructive logging and in particular community forestry, to his people in Papua New Guinea and to community building in all senses.

His work was focused on supporting programmes of forest stewardship in the fraught regions of the world such as his home country where the forestry corporates have been destroying rainforest habitat and communities with dreadful consequences.

Yati established his organisation “Foundation for People and Community Development” as a counter to the destructive and manipulative strategies of the corporate developers so that the eco forestry and indigenous led community development could flourish.

This was a tough road but this man who gained his Masters in Science focused on forestry  at Edinburgh University was a highly principled and dedicated leader who stood up for his community and contributed to the vital international work on FSC.

FSC is a certification that is well respected internationally, it’s not perfect but its principles are sound and it is a great tool in the work to pressure the global forestry industry to meet the quadruple bottom lines of sustainability. Yati played a big role in establishing the global reputation of FSC

Yati also inspired me by his very public withdrawal from working with a mining company when they showed a lack of integrity and authenticity in their dealings with his people and the environment.

Those who worked closely with Yati such as my colleague from Greenpeace Grant Rosoman, have described his loss as huge because Yati was a mentor for a whole generation of young people, many now working in civil society organisations in PNG.

A totara tree, a giant of the forest has fallen, as Pacific colleagues the Green Party send our love and respect to his family, his village, his country and to the international eco forestry community.

5 Comments Posted

  1. Thanks Catherine… nice comment.. I am one of those young foresters that Yati mentored and I read you comments with tears. Yati to us is our big brother and leader. A man of principles who stood for what he believed in. A defender of indigenous forest resource owners. He Always told us that we have to take ownership and control of our own forest resources and manage it ourselves… he showed us an alternative way of doing forestry in PNG… and FSC certification is a tool to achieving sustainable forest management in PNG… Bazakie

  2. Thanks, Catherine, for sharing that with us. Indigenous forests are the lungs of the planet and sadly disappearing just too fast. All praise to Yati, for being a stalwart under a difficult political regime. Sadly for us, he was called. May his legacy lives on.

    Has anyone seen the documentary, “The Coconut Revolution”? All about Papuan New Guineans’ rouse to live sustainably under a mine-orientated political regime – it is so heartwarming and inspiring.

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