PNG faced with capacity challenge on forest conservation
A report by the Forest Trends NGO says Papua New Guinea is receiving far less finance for forest conservation than most other countries with large tropical forests, and must do a lot of work to build its capacity in forest management and conservation.
A report by an NGO says Papua New Guinea is receiving far less finance for forest conservation than most other countries with large tropical forests.
The group Forest Trends tracked a flow of US$45.3 million in total conservation finance to PNG under the UN conservation programme known as REDD+ between 2009 and 2014.
Brian Schaap is a senior associate in the REDD+ forest conservation finance tracking initiative.
He spoke about the findings to Johnny Blades who began by asking how the amount of carbon saved by conserving forests is measured.
Brian Schaap: You can sit at a computer and look at changes in forest cover. And then you can calculate based on the type of forest and the type of trees, the mass of carbon or CO2 equivalent that was stored in those trees. So if you see, for instance, a one hectare plot of forest that's been deforested, you can then convert that into the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that contributes to the atmosphere. And this technology has gotten better and better over time to the point where it's pretty good in countries that have taken a lead. In PNG a lot of the money has been spent to set up these systems and it's a big up-front cost, it's sort of a big hill that countries have to climb to really be able to take advantage of future, larger flows of REDD finance.
Johnny Blades: Tell me, what are your concerns with what's happening with the REDD initiative in PNG?
BS: To put the findings in the global context, our initiative at Forest Trends tracks REDD finance in thirteen key tropical forest countries across the globe. These include pretty much all the largest tropical forest countries. And we found that Papua New Guinea has received less money than basically any of the other countries. I think there's a lot of potential reasons for why this might be. But I think the finding on its own is important. The island of New Guinea, which is obviously shared between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia's eastern province, has the third largest rainforest basin in the world after the Amazon and the Congo basins of central Africa. So, huge forest resources in PNG but not a lot of money going to conserve them through REDD. So this is definitely a concern and the country is working on finding new donors to support continued efforts to support their forest conservation ambitions.
JB: What kind of players are paying the money, and is it the PNG government that is handling the money? Because this could be problematic.
BS: So, REDD finance across the globe varies a lot. Certain countries, most of the money goes to governments. In other countries, most of it goes to NGOs or United Nations agencies. In Papua New Guinea, our research showed that most of the money is coming through bilateral agreements with various donors. So the government of Japan has provided the most financing, by far: close to US$18 million in support; the government of Australia has contributed about 4 million; the United States a bit less; and the European Commission kicked in about just less than seven million. And about 70% of these finds are going to the government of Papua New Guinea, and this has catalysed a lot of really important changes. for instance, in 2010, the government set up a new ministry, the Office of Climate Change and Development which was tasked with managing all the climate change activities happening in the government. And just recently the office name was changed again to the Climate Change and Development Authority. So there's a lot of changes happening in the government, trying to increase their capacity to institutionalise solid forest management policies in the country. And I think that's the importance of REDD funding to PNG. The government does have a bit of a lower capacity there than a lot of countries.
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