RELEASE: Papua New Guinea Rainforests Deeply Threatened

– The nation's future carbon payments for avoided deforestation in doubt. As a global leader in promoting such payments, the PNG government would be well advised to focus upon better protecting its rainforests, if it wants to fully access carbon monies based upon their continued carbon storage
By Earth's Newsdesk and the Rainforest Portal, Projects of EcoInternet
CONTACT: Dr. Glen Barry,
Sari papa, bikpela bus pinis, na bai yumi painim had long karim kaikai long ples(Seattle, WA) — An important new study in the journal “Biotropica” finds that between 1972 and 2002, a net 15 percent of Papua New Guinea's (PNG) rainforests [search] were cleared and 8.8 percent were degraded through logging[1]. The clearance rate of 1.1 to 3.4 percent/yr in commercially accessible forests is much higher than reported previously by the FAO.
PNG — located in the South Pacific, northeast of Australia — holds some of the world's largest and most important intact and contiguous forests. Their fate has important implications for local livelihoods and biodiversity, and both local and global climate change. The new study quantifies forest loss in PNG for the first time with a high degree of accuracy. And the findings are not good.
Some 36% of the accessible forest estate has been degraded or deforested. This finding raises the question of whether the PNG government — as a welcome leader in promoting avoided deforestation payments — is pursuing the necessary policies to ensure large rainforests continue to exist as the basis for their country to receive large and continuous international payments for their forest's carbon storage?

“You cannot industrially log, and clear forests for biofuels, and expect to receive avoided deforestation payments,” says Dr. Glen Barry. “As a nation PNG is going to have to choose between continued once off rainforest destruction, mostly for foreign advantage, or being paid more, essentially forever, for maintaining the national and global benefits of fully intact rainforests.”
EcoInternet calls upon PNG to immediately reappraise its logging, biofuel and agriculture policies; to ensure maximum amounts of fully intact forests are available for anticipated international carbon market funding to stop deforestation and diminishment, and for continued non-diminishing traditional local uses. First time industrial logging of primary forests releases huge amounts of stored carbon and permanently reduces the forest's carbon holding potential. Clearly industrial forestry, certified or not, is a dying industry with no future.
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The study found that change in PNG rainforest extent and condition has occurred to a greater extent than previously recorded. The study assessed deforestation and forest degradation in Papua New Guinea by comparing a land-cover map from 1972 with a land-cover map created from nationwide high-resolution satellite imagery recorded since 2002. In 2002 there were 28,251,967 ha of tropical rain forest.
Between 1972 and 2002, a net 15 percent of Papua New Guinea's tropical forests were cleared and 8.8 percent were degraded through logging. The drivers of forest change have been concentrated within the accessible forest estate where a net 36 percent were degraded or deforested through both forestry and nonforestry processes. Since 1972, 13 percent of upper montane forests have also been lost.
It was estimated that over the period 1990-;2002, overall rates of change generally increased and varied between 0.8 and 1.8 percent/yr, while rates in commercially accessible forest have been far higher

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8 Responses

  1. Marc Sommer says:

    About 25% in total of the forests of Papoea New Guinea raped by the influence of the Indonesians.A Shame!
    If Luns (a minister in the Dutch Gouvernment) had been a keener person, the Dutch had not lost this territory in the sixties.
    If so without doubt the percentage forests still standing now should be bigger.Because the Dutch are more advanced in their awareness of the value of Nature than the Indonesians.(In Holland Nature has almost gone)
    By the way the Indonesians are treating the original aboriginals of this country as second in line citisens.

  2. Jan Diek van Mansvelt says:

    Please go for sustainable energy oroduction and save the New Guinean Forests, that are so important for you and our childer's common future.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Please pursue the necessary policies to ensure large rainforests continue to exist; not just for carbon storage but for a legacy for all our children.

  4. Rachel Smolker says:

    Greetings, thanks for all you do…
    I read the recent alert re Papua New GUinea with interest, but have a quetion. You state that it is being cleared for biofuel. I understand that timber in some cases followed by establishment of palm oil is the pattern. And the palm oil is being used for ??is this going into biodiesel or other uses?
    Rachel Smolker, Ph.D.

  5. Simon says:

    Hi Glen
    Thanks for this.
    Only one comment: I would say that PNG is far from being “a welcome leader in promoting avoided deforestation payments”. In fact, as you can read in various postings on REDD-Monitor, the Government of PNG is advocating a monstrous version of REDD payments that would be disastrous if appiled there or elsewhere. The main aim seems to be to capture as much money for the government as possble, without actually doing anything to tackle precisely the kind os problems – especially induistrial logging – that I know you care about so much.
    The author of the paper you refer to, Phil Shearman, is very good and very worried indeed about some of the frankly fraudulent methodologies the PNG government is using to underpin its case for REDD payments. There is a presentation of his abouit this somewhere on the RRI-RF Norway 'REDD and Rights' conference website from last year.
    All the best

  6. Dear Rachel,
    Thank you for your kind words. Traditionally almost all of the forests were cleared with very heavy selective logging for timbers. There is starting to be more clearing followed by oil palm, and this is a big threat, but it is not as far advanced (yet) as in Indonesia and Malaysia. We hope to keep it that way and nip the threat in the bud.

  7. aiman says:

    there is a problem how to stop them today… but what about tomorrow? what about the real fuel distater? just after that next day – no trees accross the world 🙁

  8. Tommy says:

    I just see this as one more person, in this case an entire country, that is getting something that they are not earning. If they are paid for a task, a very important one for that matter, and are not following the guidelines, than that should be the end of the payments. At least until they start following the guidelines again. We need those forests, as they probably need the funds so there must be some mutual understanding that everyone can agree on easily. With the economy the way it has been lately, not a penny should be misspent.

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