Cherish and protect forests on International Day of Forests, March 21Mar 21, 2017
Port Moresby, 21 March 2017 - Papua New Guineans are being urged to reflect on the importance of forests and trees in our lives on March 21, the International Day of Forests.
PNG has a very high level of forest cover, at 80 per cent, making it one of the most extensively forested countries in the world. Two million hectares of this are managed as ‘protected areas’.
United Nations Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP) Resident Representative for Papua New Guinea, Mr Roy Trivedy said the Day marks the important role forests play worldwide and aims to raise public awareness of the vital role of forests.
"International Day of Forests is particularly relevant in Papua New Guinea (PNG) because our forests have been ranked among the world’s most ecologically distinctive forest regions with many different types of plants and animals, some unique only to PNG," Mr Trivedy said.
"Forests have ecological importance as they help to maintain access to water and protect biodiversity and agricultural land for PNG’s predominantly rural population. Forests also help protect key infrastructure, people and crops from flash flooding and landslides."
Peter Katapa from UNDP's REDD+ Readiness project said that on the International Day of Forests it's important to recognise that PNG’s forests have been in decline.
"Deforestation is reducing levels of forest cover and degradation is changing the nature of a significant portion of the nation's forests," said Mr Katapa.
"Between 2000 and 2015 about 261,528 hectares of forest was cleared, resulting in average of over five million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions per annum, according to PNG’s 2017 Forest Reference Level document, submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”
This deforestation has been primarily driven by the conversion of forests to crop-land. Shifting agriculture is responsible for 63 percent of the land that is deforested and commercial agricultural developments, is responsible for 30 percent of the deforested land.
Efforts are ongoing to rehabilitate forest areas through community initiatives supportive of sustainable livelihoods and focused on mitigating the effects of climate change and coastal and inland flooding.
UNDP is working with the different government agencies of PNG, namely the Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) and PNG Forest Authority, as well as other UN agencies and partners, through the REDD+ Readiness Project and Enhacing Adaptive Capacity of Communities to Climate Change.
UNDP is assisting the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) to establish the national system of Protected Areas which led to the endorsement of the national policy on protected areas by the National Executive Council in 2014. In addition, UNDP directly supports more than 530,000 hectares in six provinces with demonstration sites to serve as models on protected area management and sustainable livelihoods, namely in the YUS Conservation Area, Torricelli Mountain Range, Varirata National Park and the Sogeri Platuea.
UNDP is also focusing on implementing measures at a community level to cope with the increasing intensity and frequency of climate change hazards.
On the International Day of Forests let’s work together to value and protect PNG’s forests and to support the many communities that rely on forests for their livelihoods.
Mairi Feeger, UNDP’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility REDD+ Readiness Project Communications Officer, 7392 4724, email@example.com
United Nations Development Programme in Papua New Guinea:
UNDP is the UN's global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. In Papua New Guinea, UNDP works to improve the state’s ability to deliver public services to its people, and in doing so, plays a vital role in helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), raise the standard of living and protect human rights for all Papua New Guineans. UNDP PNG: http://www.pg.undp.org