The islands of Papua New Guinea are home to some of the most important – and most beautiful – tropical rainforests in the world. Does ecoforestry represent a viable option for the region’s forest communities and ecosystems?
While intensive logging is a serious and ongoing threat, the community of Tavolo is standing strong to protect their forests.
One of the least explored and most interesting melting pots of natural diversity on Earth, Papua New Guinea supports some of the strangest and most beautiful of life-forms.
Papua New Guinea is home to immense cultural diversity. The islands have only seven million people yet between them they speak 850 different languages. Over 97% of land is under customary title and the vast majority of people depend on the forest for their food, livelihoods, shelter and cultural wellbeing.
The people of Tavolo village on the Island of New Britain are deeply connected to their forest home.
A rapid population growth combined with the aggressive appetite of the logging and agribusiness industries has seen intact forests reduced dramatically throughout the whole of South East Asia.
Creating a solution
The steps involved in setting up the Tavolo ecoforestry scheme are used throughout the region.
Participatory land use mapping
One of the vital steps in setting up an ecoforestry programme is mapping by the community of the land for it's ownership, resources and potential use.
On the ground
Selecting the right trees and, cutting and milling them involve a lot of time and effort, but in the long run the result is an ecosystem that is well maintained.
Ecoforestry throughout Papua New Guinea
Community ecoforestry enterprises have been in place across PNG for many years with varying degrees of success. With the support of local NGO partners such as FORCERT and Foundation for People and Community Development (FPCD), communities have been able to put in place an alternative to industrial logging and SABLs and protect their forest for future generations.
The Awane Clan near Madang have been producing ecotimber since 2004, and now own their portable sawmill.
Bringing it home
Ecoforestry not only provides much needed materials for local housing and construction but the “ecotimber” that is produced is in high demand from consumers around the world.
Scott Freeman from Town & Park, a Sydney based company is committed to using ecologically sourced wood.
Making a better future
Ecoforestry has great potential globally. Whilst not an easy option, involving hard work and commitment, the benefit to the community is priceless.
Papua New Guinea presents a very complex situation, yet these communities are able to remain independent whilst continuing to be guardians of the environment.