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The Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute (FRI), is charged with, among other things, the responsibility to provide through research, scientific information and basis for the sustainable management of Papua New Guinea's forests.

Research activities

Research activities within FRI are arranged within four programmes: sustainable forest management; planted forests; forest biology; and national botanical garden. Two other support programmes: technical services and administration, provide services to ensure that resources are available to undertake approved research and that the results of research are communicated to those who need them.

The following notes provide an indication of current research activities.

Sustainable forest management programme

The major objective of this programme is to provide the essential data needed for forest managers to sustainably manage Papua New Guinea's natural forest resource and to develop and refine silvicultural techniques to improve the forest stand quality hence increase the value of the forest to benefit the resource owners and the nation as a whole. Presently, the three major priority projects under this programme include;

(a) Tree growth and yield studies

This project involves establishment of permanent sample plots (PSP) in recently logged over forests. In addition to a total of seventy 1 hectare plots established by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) project on "Intensification of Growth and Yield Studies", a total of 30 plots have been established in recently logged over forests throughout the country by this programme. In total 100 plots of one hectare have been established throughout the country. These are part of a nation-wide network of plots which will enable collection of growth data and will subsequently be used for yield prediction and calculation of the next harvest is information that will also be used to review existing policies.

(b) Silvicultural techniques

This project involves establishment of demonstration plots on post harvest forest management So far two 100 hectare plots have been completed in the Morobe Province and Central Provinces. Within these, silvicultural experiments have been designed to test different treatment levels and will be used to further demonstrate to landowners and forest managers the options available to them for the management of their forests after logging.

(c) Ecosystem management

This project involves investigation into diseases in both forest plantations and natural forests. Several forest plantations and natural forests have been covered. Collections of specimen have commenced and research is progressing to isolate pathogens. This project continuously monitors insect and pathogen outbreaks, investigates them and produces reports and recommendations to prevent future problems for plantation managers, resource owners and others concerned with forest management.

Planted forests programme

This programme has four major projects:

Species screening: This project Screens indigenous timber species of Papua New Guinea from both the lowland and highland regions to see if they have any potential to be used as plantation species (not only for commercial purposes but also for village forestry extension). In some parts of the highlands work has already begun with Kauri Pine, while in the lowlands seed trees of Pterocarpus (Rosewood), Pometia (Taun), Anisoptera (Mesawa) and Eucalyptus pellita (Papua New Guinea source) have been selected for study. Successful species identified by this project will be recommended for industrial plantation and extension purposes depending on their performance on each of the sites.

Species development and improvement: This project tests different provenances and progeny to identify provenances and seed trees that have fast growth and good stem form with fine branching. The best tress will be used for future plantations and community forestry. The project is currently working on Araucaria spp, Agathis spp, Pinus spp, Casuarina spp, Terminalia spp, and Eucalyptus deglupta.

The project is also researching into tree breeding techniques to improve the form of plantation tree species. It is currently looking into establishing new seed/clonal orchards of Teak, Hoop, Pinus, Klinkii and Acacia mangium as seed sources for future plantations.

Growth and yield: Study into silvicultural techniques to improve growth and yield of plantation tree species. Currently looking at growth and yield (vol./ha) of A. mangium on different sties to see what sites are suitable for this species so that they can be planted at the right site and secondly looking at factors limiting the early growth and survival of Hoop pine in the Wau/Bulolo area. Thirdly, working on volume tables for Pinus oocarpa in Bulolo and finally looking into appropriate fertilizer and rate required by Hoop and A. mangium for fast growth.

Management manual: This project is preparing management manuals and information notes for plantation and potential plantation species to be used by Plantation Managers and extension services during the establishment and maintenance of plantations and extension plantings. Currently it is working on the following species: Hoop; Klinkii; Pinus spp and Balsa. Seven information notes have already been drafted on the silviculture of specific Pinus species and indigenous species. The notes also include a guide to seed tree selection and tree improvement for rural fanning communities and for foresters.

Forest biology programme

The major research project within this programme is the development of computer based keys to enable forest managers, researchers and industry staff accurately identify the estimated 2000 tree species found in the Papua New Guinea's forests. These keys are essential for both improved forest management and effective identification of timber species for pricing and marketing. Scientists within this programme are also responsible for the future development and maintenance of the nationally important insect and plant collections. Curation of the dried plant collections recently received a boost with the receipt of a significant grant from the McArthur Foundation (USA).

National botanical garden

The National Botanic Garden (NBG) is located in the centre of the city of Lae on 56 hectares of land reserved for a botanical garden. Located on the site is the Forest Research Institute, which houses some of the most important scientific collections for biological research, e.g., the National Herbarium, National Forest Insect Collection and the National Xylarium.

Papua New Guinea has a rich and unique flora, and the National Botanic Garden serves an important role as the centre for botanical research, plant conservation and education. The NBG has been developed over the years in parallel with the National Herbarium which houses the best reference collection (over 300,000 specimens) of the nations' rich flora. The objectives of the project are to provide the scientific basis for the understanding and appreciation of plants as our natural heritage.

A redevelopment programme of the National Botanic Garden was started in 1995. It includes fencing of the garden, major landscaping work to improve the drainage of the area, construction of public amenities area, children's playgrounds, shade houses for display of the country's rich flora and various smaller projects. The above activities are controlled through a Garden Management Committee comprising various sectors of the Lae city community.

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