Importance of PNG forests highlighted

8:12 am on 21 March 2015

A United Nations ecology expert says the world needs to realise the importance the forests of Papua New Guinea holds in the fight against climate change.

Today marks International Day of Forests and Arthur Neher from the UN Office in PNG says it is a good time to remind people about the significance of the forests.

PNG hosts the third largest tropical rainforests in the world with 80% of the country covered by natural forests.

Mr Neher says the PNG forests are ranked among the world's most ecologically distinctive and is a home to up to 7% of the world's species with the majority found nowhere else.

He says locals don't really need to be told about the importance of the forests as they provide shelter, food and medicine for more than 4-POINT-5 million people.

But Mr Neher says globally the message needs to be clear.

"Forests, we should really appreciate the value that we have now. For us, environmental services but also as the global lungs of our Earth and they will not only produce oxygen, but they were capture our greenhouse gases. To our benefit we should keep our forests standing to address the adverse effects of global climate change."

Hela province, Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades