Papua New Guinea: its environment and sustainability


A brief guide to Papua New Guinea’s environment and sustainability practices.

New Guinea has the third-largest rainforest in the world, behind the Amazon and the Congo.

PNG has extremely high biodiversity, according to Cool Earth, a charity that is dedicated to saving rainforests. It says the total number of different plants and animals in PNG is not accurately known but almost certainly exceeds 200,000 species.

The species include PNG’s national emblem, the bird of paradise, as well as the Queen Alexandra’s birdwing butterfly, which is the world’s largest butterfly with a wingspan more than 25 centimetres. There are estimates that the country has 3000 varieties of orchids.

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Environmental degradation, habitat loss and mining pollution are the primary environmental challenges for PNG. Exploitation of forestry resources, and the clearing of land for agricultural development has led to the loss of forest cover and the species that live within it, according to the Lowy Institute.

The World Wildlife Fund says logging, much of it illegal, is leaving a trail of destruction.

The Conservation and Environment Protection Authority is tasked with the protection of PNG’s environment. Its responsibilities include

  • Environment management policy development
  • Biodiversity protection policy development
  • Pollution control and the regulation of hazardous substances
  • Management of Water Resources
  • Environmental Impact Assessments of major projects including infrastructure, forestry, agriculture, mining and petroleum proposals;
  • Biodiversity assessment and data management
  • Hydrological investigation, data collection and analysis
  • Coordination of donor funded programs
  • Education & Awareness

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