Defeating the 'resource curse': key priorities for conserving Papua New Guinea's native forests

Laurance, William F., Kakul, Titus, Tom, Memory, Wahya, Reeza, and Laurance, Susan (2012) Defeating the 'resource curse': key priorities for conserving Papua New Guinea's native forests. Biological Conservation, 151 (1). pp. 35-40.

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Abstract

The native forests of Papua New Guinea (PNG) are some of the most biologically and culturally diverse ecosystems on Earth, and are a major stock of terrestrial carbon. These forests are being altered at a rapid rate, especially by industrial logging and swidden farming. Wildfires, expanding oil palm plantations, and industrial mining are also causing forest loss. At current rates of exploitation, most industrially accessible forests in PNG are projected to be logged or cleared in just 1-2 decades. Much of the country's timber is exported as raw logs, mainly to China, providing only limited income and employment for local communities. Despite growing exploitation of its natural resources, many social indicators in PNG, such as per-capita income, literacy, and the Human Development Index, remain alarmingly low. We highlight a range of near-term policy measures designed to improve forest conservation and sustainability in PNG. These include: (1) reducing annual timber harvests to a more-sustainable level, (2) curtailing raw-log exports while promoting expansion of domestic wood-processing industries, (3) combating serious corruption in the forestry sector, (4) reinstating the rights of traditional communities in PNG to sue corporations for past or anticipated environmental damage, (5) expanding and improving the management of protected areas, and (6) stabilizing the administration of international carbon-trading funds designed to reduce emissions from forest conversion. We also recommend that educational and family-planning support be improved for younger women to help reduce the destabilizing effects of rapid population growth. These measures will help to reduce environmental damage and slow the exhaustion of timber supplies, while improving societal benefits for PNG citizens.

Item ID: 23032
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0006-3207
Keywords: carbon-trading, corruption, deforestation, forest management, globalization, governance, logging, multinational corporations, Papua New Guinea, REDD, tropical timber
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2012 05:25
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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