The story of PNG Forest Products really starts back in the late 1920’s when Bulolo Gold Dredging Limited (BGD) was planning large scale alluvial mining operations in the Bulolo Valley.
To facilitate such a large scale operation it was essential for BGD to build a town with sufficient housing and facilities for the hundreds of workers and their families. Fortunately the Bulolo area had extensive stands of good timber including pine. BGD secured timber permits, started a logging program, established sawmill and joinery facilities and set about producing timber for the company’s housing program, shops, schools and numerous other purposes, including for sale to outside buyers.
By the mid 1930’s a total of eight dredges scoured the valley floor, powered by BGD’s own hydro power stations and raising thousands of tons of alluvial gold in what was one of the world’s largest goldfields at that time. As the operation grew in scale, so did the need for more timber.
The local pine at Bulolo was predominantly Klinki Pine (Araucaria Hunsteini) with some Hoop Pine (Araucaria Cunninghami) also present. When the pine was cut, natural regeneration did not take place, the young growth being choked by jungle. So in the 1940’s the administration’s forestry department established a pine nursery and reforestation program, planting 60,000 young pine trees in December 1948 and each year thereafter.
As the mining operation scaled down a plywood factory and new sawmill were constructed by Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers Ltd. In collaboration with the government, an extensive pine plantation was established as part of a large scale post-mining reforestation program by the Department of Forests.
In 1954 plywood production and the export of product to overseas destinations commenced, signaling the birth of a new industry.