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Special Collection: Papua New Guinea's Forests

Paul Dargusch, University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia
Fabio Attorre, Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza University of Rome
David Wadley, Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea & School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia

By many measures, Papua New Guinea’s forests are a source of precious natural wonder. Approximately 80% of the country is classified as forest land; more than 38 million ha, the third largest tropical forest area in the world after the Amazon and Congo basin. Of that forest, more than 75% (28 million ha) is classified as ‘intact’ or undisturbed by human activities. These forests provide vital habitat. Papua New Guinea alone accounts for more than five per cent of global biodiversity. The number of plant species in Papua New Guinea has been estimated to be between 15,000 to 20,000, representing about six per cent of the world’s flora. It is estimated that Papua New Guinea’s forests provide habitat for more than 150,000 species of insects, 314 species of freshwater fish (82 endemic), 641 species of amphibians and reptiles (328 endemic), 740 species of birds (77 endemic) and 276 species of mammals (69 endemic). Of global concern, Papua New Guinea’s forests are being lost at an alarming rate. Forest loss in Papua New Guinea’s low altitude forests, which account for around 20 million ha forest cover, has continued at between 3 and 5% loss by area per year since 2010, mostly driven (more than 90%) by log exports to China.

This special collection was compiled as part of Papua New Guinea’s National Forest Inventory. The inventory was unique in that in addition to data being collected on carbon stocks, data was also collected on floral and faunal components. The work presented in this collection presents some of the first studies of their kind. The papers are led by authors from Papua New Guinea. The collection serves as an important record of a valuable and unique forest resource. The results will contribute to the better management of the country’s forests, particularly as plans progress to engage in REDD+ and forest conservation finance initiatives. The collection also serves as an urgent call for the international community to help protect Papua New Guinea’s precious forests in ways determined by the people of Papua New Guinea for the primary benefit of people from Papua New Guinea.

The collection was made possible by the generous support of the Italian Development Cooperation through the FAO-Mountain Partnership Secretariat.

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