Environment day focuses on forests

Normal, Papua

The National, Monday, June 6th 2011

WORLD Environment Day was officially celebrated in Port Moresby last Friday with several traditional dances and a drama depicting the year’s theme, ‘Forests: Nature at your service’.
Launching the event at the Institute of Public Administration College, Forests Minister Timothy Bonga said the theme reminded us of the importance of forests.
“Human is nature, nature is human, and environment is human and nature,” he said.
“I am honoured to be here to deliver the keynote address on the global theme for the 2011 World Environment Day as declared by
the secretary-general of the Uni­ted Nations, Ban Ki-moon.
“We must first and foremost thank God our heavenly father for blessing our great nation with renewable tropical forests,” Bonga said.
“The earth’s 3.4 billion hectares of forests directly contribute to the livelihood of 90% of the world’s 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty by providing food, firewood or charcoal, shelter, fibre, bushment and genetic resources.
“Over the past decade, the world has annually lost forests equivalent in area size to that of Portugal, which is about 9.4 million hectares.
“More than 70% of forest destruction is driven directly by the expansion of agriculture, with urbanisation, energy production and mining contributing significantly.
“In many cases, indiscriminate logging has catalysed this by providing infrastructure for human expansion.
“Much of the destruction and degradation of forests could be avoided if access and the tenure rights were fairer to local people, especially marginalised groups and women who depend on forests for their livelihood,” Bonga said.
He said PNG was one of the world’s most complex natural resource management challenges.
“With 29 million hectares of tropical rainforests, PNG has the third largest expanse of tropical forest in the world.
“In terms of forest coverage per total land area, PNG has 63% of forest cover, which is higher than any country in the Asia-Pacific region,” Bonga said.