Forest carbon partnership with PNG paves the way for replicate action
Humane Society International (HSI) congratulates Prime Minister Rudd and the Australian Government on the signing of an Australia-PNG Forest Carbon Partnership, announced during the Prime Minister’s visit to Papua New Guinea last week.
Through the partnership, HSI understands Australia will provide technical assistance and capacity building via satellite technology, sustainable forest management, and potential access to future international carbon trading markets and funding sources from private companies who are increasingly looking to offset their carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits.
With around 65 percent or 29 million hectares of forest cover remaining, of which close to 86 percent is recognised as primary forest and an extremely rich source of biodiversity, PNG is one of the top four sites of significant tropical rainforest left in the world, yet years of unsustainable logging practices, coupled with illegal logging has severely threatened this forest habitat.
“HSI hopes that the Forest Carbon Partnership announced between Australia and PNG to reduce deforestation will serve as a fast, efficient and cost-effective means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while also provide protection to an amazing array of plants and animals, including species endemic to PNG,” said HSI’s Program Manager, Rebecca Keeble. “It is however crucial that the partnership provides adequate capacity and financial assistance to make it worthwhile for PNG to protect pristine forests and keep areas free from logging.”
At the UN climate meetings in Bali last December, PNG headed the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, more than 40 countries that advocated the REDD concept of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (and Forest Degradation) in Developing Countries. Under REDD, developed countries pay developing nations to maintain tropical forests, thereby achieving a fast and effective means of reducing large volumes of emissions, while future longer-term commitments are negotiated and technologies are developed. REDD will also provide avenues for private company investment in future carbon trading schemes.
“HSI is very encouraged by Australia’s partnership with PNG, which shows countries are continuing to progress the outcomes of the Bali negotiations,” Ms Keeble said. “We hope that other countries will follow with similar partnerships to provide developing nations with the financial resources and technical expertise required to protect tropical forests, reduce carbon emissions and benefit biodiversity at the same time.”
Of direct relevance to this partnership, HSI is calling on the Australian Government to enact a Tropical Forest Conservation Act as a means of fulfilling its election commitment to ban the importation of illegal timber. HSI recommends such an Act to also include import bans on unsustainable palm oil, in addition to providing a legal basis for bilateral partnerships such as that agreed with PNG, and for “debt-for-nature” swaps.