PNG has a very high level of forest cover at 77.8 making it one of the most extensively forested countries in the world. Despite this, PNG’s forests have been in decline, with deforestation reducing levels of forest cover and degradation changing the nature of a significant portion of PNG’s forests. PNG’s Forest Reference Level (FRL), submitted to the UNFCCC in 2017, identified that between 2000 and 2015, 261,528 ha of forest was cleared, resulting in average emissions of over 5m tCO2e per annum. This deforestation has been primarily driven by the conversion of forest-land to crop-land which accounts for 87% of deforestation.
Of this shifting agriculture is responsible for 63% of the land deforested and commercial agricultural developments, primarily in the form of oil palm are responsible for 30% of the deforested land. The trend in clearance for commercial agriculture has increased in the past decade following the rapid expansion of Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABLs), which were allocated over 5.1m ha. While only a small number of these have initiated development and there has been an official moratorium and subsequent suspension of them, some logging and conversion have occurred. The figure below shows the primary drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in PNG.
Steps to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in PNG
To achieve PNG’s emissions reduction targets and to safeguard the future of one of the country’s most important strategic assets, PNG must reduce the impact of the primary direct and indirect drivers of forest cover change. This requires action that cuts across government sectors and stakeholder groups and is undertaken at every level from the national to provincial, district, local and ward levels. These actions must not stop the processes of economic and social development but ensure that the country’s forests are utilized in ways that are in line with the principles of responsible and sustainable development and that deliver the maximum long-term benefits to the people of PNG.
Under PNG’s National REDD+ Strategy, a range of policies and measures have been identified and clustered under three main REDD+ Action Areas to address direct and underlying drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.
1. Strengthened land-use and development planning
Strengthened and Coordinated National Level Development and Land Use Planning through development of climate and REDD+ relevant development indicators (DNPM) within the national development framework and strengthening of development of national land-use policy, planning and legislation (DLPP).
Integrated Subnational Planning through strengthening ward and LLG level planning and strategic development planning at provincial, and district level and the linkages between levels of planning (DPLGA and DNPM).
2. Strengthened environmental management, protection and enforcement
This action will involve reviewing and updating of Climate Change legislation led by CCDA to link with changing domestic and international legislation, development of robust financial management systems to integrate climate finance with work of key sectors, support to development of capacity within Climate Change institutions to effectively support and coordinate action on Climate Change across sectors, levels of government and stakeholder groups.
It will also involve strengthening of forest management and enforcement practices led by PNG Forest Authority (PNGFA) through updating of forest policy to consolidate amendments and incorporation of legality standards, strengthening capacity of the PNGFA to enforce legislation through review of resources and support to development of management systems, strengthening alternative approaches to timber production and processing through expansion of plantations and small-scale timber producers, increase capacity of PNGFA and training and research institutions to raise awareness of and operationalize improved approaches to timer operations including legislation through support to universities, training colleges, government staff, communities and timber operators.
Furthermore, it will involve strengthening environmental management, enforcement and protection led by Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) through strengthening of environmental policies, regulations and guidelines, strengthening enforcement capacity of CEPA, strengthening the capacity of Provincial governments for environmental management, strengthen conservation planning, financing and management and strengthen access to information and recourse mechanisms: (multi-stakeholder action) through support to civil society groups to increase community and landholder awareness of their legal rights and requirements for environmental management and development planning as well as access to legal support to address breaches in those rights and management systems.
3. Enhanced economic productivity and sustainable livelihoods
Development of a sustainable commercial agriculture sector led by Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) and Department of National Planning and Monitoring (DNPM) through improvements in guidelines and regulations for sustainable production of commercial products.
Strengthened food security and increased productivity of family agriculture led by DAL/FPDAthrough strengthening and expansion of extension services and support to rural communities.
While these action areas are separated within the strategy, they are mutually supportive and coordination between areas is critical to achieving emission reductions and supporting the transformational change towards a responsible and sustainable approach to development.