2 Jun 2008

PNG gets a stark warning about the destruction of its forests

7:41 pm on 2 June 2008

A new report has warned that more than half of Papua New Guinea's forests could be lost or badly damaged by 2021 because of wasteful logging and population growth.

The report paints a grim picture of the future of one of the world's last great areas of tropical forest, which other countries including neighbouring Australia are pressing PNG to preserve.

The report, by the University of PNG and Australian National University, says PNG must live up to its statements about environmental protection, or millions more hectares of its forests will be destroyed.

Researchers spent five years studying PNG's forests using satellite images.

They found that between 1972 and 2002, eight million hectares of PNG forest was lost to deforestation or reduced by degradation.

A University of PNG ecologist, Phil Shearman, says the unfortunate reality is that forests in PNG are being logged repeatedly and wastefully with little regard for the environmental consequences and with at least the passive complicity of government authorities.