8 Oct 2012

Academics assure PNG residents expedition has no agenda

6:45 am on 8 October 2012

The leader of an expedition bringing more than 200 researchers, students and volunteers to Papua New Guinea has assured residents they do not have a "mining agenda".

The mission, to document both land and marine species from the Bismarck Sea to Mount Wilhelm, will begin this week and continue until the end of the year.

The man leading the expedition, Professor Philippe Bouchet from France's Natural History Museum, says he's spoken to local chiefs and residents about their concerns over current mining developments there.

"There is a lot of worry in the country about the environmental impact of the development that is going on, mining in particular. We are not conducting a baseline for mining. We are just really documenting, as academics do, without an agenda."

Professor Bouchet says PNG is one of the world's last frontiers in exploration, with forests that remain one of the few remaining hot-spots of bio-diversity.