The United Nations Development Programme works with the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to foster action on the conservation of PNG’s rich and distinctive biodiversity towards a more sustainable economic growth. PNG supports 5-9% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity (DEC 2010)[i] and 10% of the world’s total of coral reefs and marine biodiversity (DEC 2010) [ii], with species strictly endemic within a specific location and dependent on the highly intact marine and forest habitat. According to the 2009 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List data, 36 are critically endangered, 49 endangered, 365 considered vulnerable and 288 near threatened (DEC 2010) [iii] in PNG which includes tree kangaroos, echidnas, forest wallabies, leather back turtles, dugong, among others.
Threats to the environment and natural resources in PNG (DEC 2008) [iv] recorded between 1972-2002 is linked to logging with 3.8 million hectares (48.2%); forest clearing for subsistence agriculture with 3.6 million hectares (45.6%); forest fires (4.4%); forest conversion into plantations (1%); and activities attributed to mining (0.6%). Recent estimates states that by 2021, 83% of commercially accessible forest in lowland areas will have been totally cleared.
It is through the Community-based Forest and Coastal Conservation and Resource Management (CbFCCRM) Project that the government expects to have at least an additional 1 million hectares of high conservation-value terrestrial and marine resources to be under improved protection. This Project represent a significant step forward in the establishment of a national system for Protected Areas to include a cohesive legislative, institutional and regulatory framework to offset the pressures on forest and marine ecosystems from degradation and conversion as well as promoting the replication of appropriate models for payment for ecosystem schemes, for piloting in the Owen Stanley Ranges and Nakanai and Whiteman Ranges.
In the next 7 years, the project aims to develop a Sustainable National System of Protected Areas (PAs) for Papua New Guinea thus harnessing for an effective natural resource management and financing systems for Community Conservation Areas and Wildlife Management Areas. CbFCCRM Project proposes to promote the Environmental Sustainable Economic Growth (ESEG) approach established through the Kokoda Initiative in the Owen Stanly Ranges to be replicated in other globally and nationally significant biodiversity areas such on New Britain Island’s proposed Nakanai World Heritage Area.
It endeavors community conservation efforts will be supported by all-of government and the private industry using the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) scheme, aligned to support the service delivery to communities within the PAs. Specially, the expected outcomes are:
- development and refinement of an enabling environment for a community-based sustainable national system PAs;
- establishment of new PAs in the country;
- use of Conservation Area (CA) management planning in partnership with communities; and
- increase the capacity and support for implementation of CA Management Plans.