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Deforestation and forest degradation in Papua New Guinea

Déboisement et dégradation des forêts en Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée

Abstract

  • • The Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has played a prominent part in recent negotiations for “rainforest nations” to be compensated for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation or forest degradation (DFD).

  • • A new report “The State of the Forests of Papua New Guinea” claims that rates of DFD in PNG are much higher than have previously reported. It suggests more than half of PNG’s remaining forests will have disappeared or be damaged beyond recovery by 2021.

  • • We argue that this claim is incorrect. The report overestimates the area of intact primary forest in 1972 and the impact of traditional land use practices on forest cover. Much of what the RSLUP report considers as deforestation is part of a cycle of traditional clearance for farming, fallow and regrowth that has been occurring for hundreds of years.

  • • The assumption that areas impacted by harvesting or shifting cultivation will inevitably degrade and become non-forest is also not supported by observation of cutover forest in PNG. A considerable proportion of cutover forest areas will recover carbon stocks after harvesting.

  • • It is argued that traditional land use practices and forest recovery processes need to be considered in assessing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation in countries with complex land use histories such as PNG.

Résumé

  • • Le Gouvernement de Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée (PNG) a joué un rôle important dans les récentes négociations pour que « les pays à forêt tropicale humide » soient indemnisés pour la réduction des émissions de gaz à effet de serre provenant de la déforestation ou la dégradation des forêts (DFD).

  • • Un nouveau rapport « L’État des forêts de Papouasie-Nouvelle Guinée » affirme que les taux de DFD en PNG sont nettement plus élevés que précédemment signalés. Il suggère que plus de la moitié des forêts de PNG auront disparu ou seront endommagées au-delà de la récupération d’ici 2021.

  • • Nous sommes d’avis que cette affirmation est erronée. Le rapport surestime la surface de la forêt primaire intacte, en 1972, et l’impact des pratiques traditionnelles d’utilisation des terres sur le couvert forestier. Une partie importante de ce que le rapport RSLUP considère comme de la déforestation fait partie d’un cycle traditionnel de dégagement pour l’agriculture, la jachère et la repousse ce qui s’est produit pendant des centaines d’années.

  • • L’hypothèse que les zones touchées par l’exploitation forestière ou la culture itinérante vont inévitablement se dégrader et ne pas devenir de la forêt n’est pas non plus soutenue par l’observation des déboisement en PNG. Une proportion considérable des zones forestières déboisées récupérera des stocks de carbone après la récolte.

  • • Il est fait valoir que l’utilisation traditionnelle des terres et les processus de régénération forestières doivent être pris en considération dans l’évaluation des émissions de gaz à effet de serre résultant du déboisement et des dégradations dans les pays ayant une histoire complexe de l’utilisation des terres comme la Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée.

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Filer, C., Keenan, R.J., Allen, B.J. et al. Deforestation and forest degradation in Papua New Guinea. Ann. For. Sci. 66, 813 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1051/forest/2009067

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Keywords

  • rainforest
  • remote sensing
  • carbon
  • forest dynamics

Mots-clés

  • forêt tropicale humide
  • télédétection
  • carbone
  • dynamique forestière