A recent parliament sitting has exposed grave inaction from the Papua New Guinean government to stop reports of illegal logging going on unobstructed throughout one province in the north of the country.
Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, Wera Mori, was grilled over not responding quickly to logging that was identified as having an impact on the environment and contributing to climate change.
Governor for Oro, Gary Juffa, questioned Mr Mori on why his ministry did not send officials to inspect illegal logging sites despite hearing reports about it.
“We have reported about illegal logging – and the consequences on the environment,” Mr Juffa said.
“None of your officers have paid a visit to these areas to carry out an assessment or an investigation to find out what is the reality on the ground.”
Mr Juffa told MPs that the state of PNG’s rainforest was important for the world’s health.
Papua New Guinea is one of the most biodiverse places and home to the world’s third largest tropical rainforest and the largest in Asia.
However, PNG has lost over 60 per cent of its forest cover to logging and 70 per cent of total logging has been illegal.
It is estimated that 99 per cent of the land being logged is owned by indigenous peoples.
“We house the third largest rainforest in the world. Seven percent of the world’s biodiversity,” Mr Juffa said.
“We pump out enough oxygen for eighty million people.
“We are contributing significantly to the lungs of the world, the breathing apparatus of this world.”
Mr Juffa cited the nature of the respiratory illness at the heart of the pandemic as a timely reminder of why more sustainable management of PNG’s forests is critical.
In response to climate change, Mr Mori has only launched one tree planting project last year.
Mr Mori, who is also the Global Coalition of Rainforest Nations chairman, urged people to continue planting trees and mangroves to help fight climate change.