Country Spotlight: The Wonders of Papua New Guinea’s Rainforests

Tuesday, November 24, 2020; Papua New Guinea (PNG) is the largest of the Pacific Island nations, with a varied and rugged terrain home the third largest tropical rainforest after the Amazon and Congo basin with over 80% of the total land area containing forests.

It’s rainforests cover over 77% of the country, making it one of the most extensively forested countries in the world. The rainforests are one of the most naturally rich and diverse of any in the world, containing a remarkable 5% of the world’s biodiversity in just 1% of its area.

The lowland forests have been ranked among the world’s most ecologically distinctive forest regions. Collectively the country’s forests contain 190 species of mammals, with marsupials such as the tree kangaroo, possums, wallabies and rodents dominating the mammal species (of which over 80% are native to PNG). It boasts 750 bird species (of which over 50% are native to PNG), 300 species of reptile, like the geckos, legless lizards, dragon lizards and monitor lizards, and 110 species of snakes, including sea snakes, tree snakes, pythons and poisonous front-fanged snakes, such as the death adder and taipans.

Over 97% of the rainforests are owned by indigenous communities and administered in accordance with their customs. Communities have relied on the nature to generate their livelihoods. The ecosystem services forests provide help to maintain access to water and suitable agricultural land for PNG’s predominantly rural population as well as helping to protect key infrastructure, people and crops from flash flooding and landslides.Over the past three decades, these forests have faced increasing levels of deforestation and degradation driven primarily by the expansion of logging and commercial agriculture.

PNG’s national REDD+ program is working to address such challenges and has already delivered 4-5 million tCO2-eq annually in 2014 and 2015 through sustainable development plan. To learn about Papua New Guinea’s efforts on REDD+, check out our site.