PNG’s National Forest Inventory data presented


Around 80 forestry and biodiversity researchers from the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Forest Authority (PNGFA), PNG Forest Research Institute (PNGFRI), PNG University of Technology, University of PNG and Binatang Research Centre gathered at the PNGFRI in Lae on 14-20 February 2018 to present the preliminary results of PNG’s first multipurpose National Forest Inventory (NFI), which was launched in March 2016 by Peter O'Neill, Prime Minister, PNG.

Approximately 78 percent of PNG is covered by forest, out of which about 25 percent is being impacted by human activities such as logging. The Government of PNG is working to reduce the emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, a process known as REDD+, and the NFI is functional to this process.

The PNG NFI is being implemented by the PNGFA in cooperation with the European Union, UN-REDD and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). With a contribution from the Italian Development Cooperation to FAO, the NFI is also systematically assessing the biodiversity present in PNG’s forests. The Mountain Partnership Secretariat at FAO is supporting the development of this component.

Including biodiversity as a core component of the inventory is essential for policies that reduce the risk of unsustainable logging and improve the overall management of forest ecosystems. Biodiversity plays a critical role in maintaining forests’ resilience and capacity to provide ecosystem goods and services to a forest-dependent nation. The biodiversity component of the NFI provides evidence of the multiple values of forests, rather than incentivizing the establishment of new plantations as a way to sequester more carbon. Understanding forest ecosystems is the only way to maintain intact ecosystem services, and the experience of PNG represents a reference model for all countries involved in REDD+ and an example of excellence for the rest of the world.

At the research conference, Ruth Turia, Director of Forest Policy and Planning, PNGFA, announced the launching of the “NFI Field Manual” and the second phase of Mountain Partnership project. “The NFI has significantly improved our understanding of forests in PNG,” says Turia. “It is a great pleasure to see the various research outcomes presented by our PNG scientists. The PNGFA is grateful to the EU and FAO for their support.”

Andrey Kushlin, Deputy Director, Forestry Department, FAO, and Interim Coordinator of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, said, “Among all of the countries involved in REDD+, PNG’s NFI is the first to integrate a full set of forest biodiversity indicators systematically into each sample plot- not only of trees, but also of other plants, invertebrates and vertebrates. This will result in the first national biodiversity assessment ever made in the country, which hosts one of the most important tropical forests in the world, alongside the Amazon and the Congo basin. It will serve as a valuable example of mainstreaming biodiversity into production sectors – a message that PNG would be well placed to showcase at the forthcoming 14th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in November 2018.”

Mateja Peternelj, Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to PNG, congratulated the PNGFA and partner agencies for the significant progress on functionalizing the NFI and building the knowledge about PNG forests through ongoing scientific research. “Forests are an essential part of life in PNG; people have depended on them economically and culturally for centuries. PNG forests are also very important on an international scale, considering their size and unique biodiversity. As a key element of the National Forest Monitoring System, an obligation under the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change, the NFI is a state-of-the art tool for achieving a transparent and sustainable management of the PNG forest for generations to come,” said Peternelj.

Around 80 forestry and biodiversity researchers attended the conference on 14-20 February 2018 in Lae, Papua New Guinea.

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Photos: FAO/Andrey Kushlin 

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