Papua New Guinea's rainforests cover
about 75 per cent, approximately 340,000 square kilometres of the country’s
total land area. That abundance of high forest area contains 35 million
hectares of closed forest.
The Government’s recognition of the
value of rare and magnificent natural forest has resulted in major policy
changes aimed at creating an environment for sustainable downstream
The Papua New Guinea Forest Authority
was formed in 1993, as a statutory corporation, to lead the forestry
reform process and devise a programme to manage the tropical rainforests.
The desire to achieve a balance between
the use of forests for both conservation and industrial wood production,
is evidenced in an initiative in which the Government invited the World
Bank to lead a review of the sector with the assistance of a number of
other donor countries and organisations.
The review established a number of
guidelines which included the need to ensure that when the forest is to be
used for industrial wood production, it is managed for sustained yield and
harvested to prescribed environmental standards.
The commercial development of the forest
resource has so far been largely concentrated on clear felling of virgin
forest for logs. By volume, about 85 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s
annual harvest is exported as logs.
This practice will be banned from the
Year 2000. Contractors have been encouraged to conduct feasibility studies
into various processing activities for the export market.
Papua New Guinea has shown the global
community that it is prepared to balance international requirements for
sustainable development with its own need for the contribution currently
made by the forestry industry.
With this balance in the forefront of
policy making, it is intended to conserve and preserve the natural forest
for future generations. Furthermore, it will allow for selective logging
on a sustainable basis to meet the Government’s development needs.
There are some prime opportunities for
development of downstream activities which the Government expects to rival
that of the logging trade.
The potential for converting some of
Papua New Guinea’s premium species, such as rosewood, kwila, blackbean
and taun, into high-quality furniture and other wood products, is an
investment opportunity with a growing market. Stocks of premium wood
species will be maintained for wood products manufacturers, so the markets
they establish in the near future can be guaranteed of a continued supply.
International markets are establishing
requirements for all tropical wood products to come from forest
plantations and afforested sourced areas. With Papua New Guinea reforming
its forestry policy and creating such areas in already clear felled areas
and savanna grasslands, it will be well-equipped to provide sound and
rewarding investment opportunities.