Support for forest protection efforts in PNG but Australia must act closer to home
Humane Society International (HSI) is pleased that the Australian Government has formally committed $3 million in funding from the International Carbon Forest Initiative* towards a partnership with Papua New Guinea announced last month, that will support activities in PNG by providing, among other things, market based incentives to help preserve forests and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
“HSI hopes that the Australia / PNG Forest Carbon Partnership 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.”
The announcement also comes after news that Norway has entered into an agreement with Tanzania, providing the east African nation $100 million over 5years for research, education and the development of pilot areas for reducing deforestation as a means of reducing carbon emissions that are contributing to global warming.
“It is wonderful to see countries starting to collaborate and build on the international negotiations that began to talk about addressing deforestation and forest degradation at the UN Climate meetings in Bali” Ms Keeble said, “We certainly hope that other nations will come forward with similar partnerships and help build a strong global initiative to address this aspect of global carbon emissions which accounts for some 20% of total emissions”.
However, despite Australia’s commitment to programs designed to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, a report released by the Australian Institute of Criminology highlights the inadequacy of international laws regarding the trade in timber, with the illegal timber trade across the Asia-Pacific region estimated to be worth more than $2 billion each year.
The report – The illegal trade in timber and timber products in the Asia-Pacific region – places Australia as the third highest importer of timber products in the region, behind China and Japan, and alarmingly states that 9% of the timber or timber products imported into Australia, worth around $452 million, is from illegal sources.
“HSI is calling on the new Government to fulfil an important pre-election commitment to implement a ban on the importation of illegal timber and timber products,” Said Ms Keeble. “Such a ban would help to address the seriousness of this issue and help put a stop to the importation of illegal timber and timber products which is currently counter-productive to what Australia is trying to achieve through the International Carbon Forest Initiative”.
HSI is advocating the introduction of a Tropical Forest Conservation Act that in addition to banning the importation of illegal forest products, would also address the importation of palm oil from unsustainable sources, and provide a legal mechanism for which the International Carbon Forest Initiative and other funding initiatives such as debt-for-nature swaps could occur.