Papua New Guinea Environmental Issues


Papua New Guinea Forest Figures

Forest Cover

Total forest area: 29, 437, 000 ha
% of land area: 65%

Primary forest cover: 25, 211, 000 ha
% of land area: 55.7%
% total forest area: 85.6%

Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005

Annual change in forest cover: -139, 000 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.5%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: 4.5%
Total forest loss since 1990: -2, 086, 000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-6.6%

Primary or "Old-growth" forests
Annual loss of primary forests: -250200 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.9%
Change in deforestation rate since '90s: 0.5%
Primary forest loss since 1990: -1, 251, 000 ha
Primary forest loss since 1990:-13.7%

Forest Classification

Public: 3.1%
Private: 0%
Other: 96.9%
Production: 24.8%
Protection: n/a
Conservation: 4.6%
Social services: n/a
Multiple purpose: 4.9%
None or unknown: 65.7

Forest Area Breakdown

Total area: 29, 437, 000 ha
Primary: 25, 211, 000 ha
Modified natural: 4, 134, 000 ha
Semi-natural: n/a
Production plantation: 92, 000 ha
Production plantation: n/a


Plantations, 2005: 92, 000 ha
% of total forest cover: 0.3%
Annual change rate (00-05): 1, 980, 000 ha

Carbon storage

Above-ground biomass: n/a M t
Below-ground biomass: n/a M t

Area annually affected by

Fire: n/a
Insects: n/a
Diseases: n/a

Number of tree species in IUCN red list

Number of native tree species: n/a
Critically endangered: n/a
Endangered: n/a
Vulnerable: n/a

Wood removal 2005

Industrial roundwood: 2, 001, 000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 6, 363, 000 m3 o.b.

Value of forest products, 2005

Industrial roundwood: $6, 330, 000
Wood fuel: n/a
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): n/a
Total Value: $6, 330, 000

The island of New Guinea, the second largest in the world, has one of the last great expanses of tropical rainforest. Although much of this area is still untouched and in some remote regions natives may have never seen a white-skinned person, the rainforest is rapidly being developed in more accessible regions. Today the island is divided into two parts: the independent country of Papua New Guinea (eastern half), and the Indonesian province of Papua and West Papua [formerly Irian Jaya] (western half). This summary regards the eastern half, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Each year 50, 000-60, 000 ha are cleared totally and permanently: 50% for agriculture, 25-30% for industrial logging, and the rest for infrastructure. However, up to 100, 000 additional ha are affected by selective logging. Almost all logging in New Guinea is conducted by Malaysian logging firms. Typically these timber companies pay landowners very little—about $4-12 per cubic meter—for logs, but charge up to $160 per cubic meter.

Since the late 1990s when the government tried to place restrictions on logging operations and faced an ugly rebuke from logging companies, there have been large grants of lowland rainforest for industrial logging under suspicious circumstances. Timber operators, knowing Papua New Guinea is rife with corruption, have generously bribed politicians and forestry officials to illegally acquire logging rights to land. In the most notorious incident, Malaysia-based Rimbunan Hijau was caught by the country's intelligence agency using bribes to secure leases and employing a terror campaign against local people. Rimbunan Hijau now has control of about 1.6 million hectares between the Western Province Border and Central Province according to an October 2005 article in Scoop.

Public awareness of Environmental Issues

Types of Environmental Issues

Pacific Ocean Environmental Issues

Lake Erie Environmental Issues

Savanna Environmental Issues