Unique plant, wildlife and forest species have been lost and more are being threatened as loggers continue to log pristine forest of Papua New Guinea. And, in a new report, scientists have found that the devastation is also affecting climate in South East Asia. The PNG forest contributes moisture into the air in this region.
Russian physicists Anasatasia Makarieva and Victor Gorshkov suggests the role of windblown moisture from PNG’s mainland forests in cooling and creating rainfall in South East Asia and beyond may have been be underestimated.
“PNG’s forests contribute to the maintenance of this current favourable climatic regime,” they said.
“Their devastation could trigger adverse changes in local, regional and possibly global climates.”
ABC’s Jemima Garrett wrote an area of Papua New Guinea’s internationally significant rainforests in excess of the size of Australia’s entire Wet Tropics Heritage Area in north Queensland has been cleared or logged in the 10 years to 2014.
There is an international concern that PNG government continues to allow loggers not only to re-log in a short time, but giving the loggers to further destruct pristine remaining intact forest that is very crucial to the world eco-system, for example the Kamula Doso-Strickland region contains one of the largest remaining intact rainforest ecosystems in the world. It is an ecological wonder.
The University of Papua New Guinea’s Remote Sensing Centre report shows pristine rainforest and unique species are being lost, and they are calling on PNG not to go ahead with major new logging concessions.
It took scientists two and a half years to piece together evidence from satellite images to produce their report, State of the Forests of Papua New Guinea 2014.
The report found 11,457 square kilometres of pristine forest had been cleared or logged between 2002 and 2014. Australia’s Wet Tropics Heritage Area, which stretches more than 600 kilometres from Cooktown to Townsville, is less than 9,000 square kilometres.
Jane Bryan, lead author of the latest State of the Forests of Papua New Guinea report said it is a concern that not enough time has been allowed by the government for the forest to regenerate.
“The forest needs time to regenerate and if you harvest again in too short a time period you can permanently damage the species composition and ecology of the system”, Jane Bryan.
Deforestation accounted for 3,752 square kilometres of PNG’s forest loss while degradation of previously unlogged forest accounted for 7,705 square kilometres.
The island provinces of Manus, New Ireland, East and West New Britain saw the greatest proportion of change, followed by West Sepik and Gulf provinces.
“The biggest driver of that change was the expansion of industrial logging into previously unlogged areas,” said Jane Bryan, lead author of the report.
In older logging concessions repeat harvesting as soon as 15 years into the 35-year cutting moratorium is widespread, the report said.
Associate Professor Gideon says the PNG Government’s lack of action is disturbing.
“PNG is a signatory to a number of international conventions about biodiversity conservation but in terms of efforts on the ground it has been extremely disappointing,” he said.
Read more of Jemima Garett’s report here on ABC Pacific Beat.