Papua New Guinea forest scientist Cossey Yosi is taking part in an ACIAR research project that is identifying ways for PNG communities to sustainably manage the forests that have already been logged by commercial operators.
In the past 30 years, more than 3.5 million hectares of the 7.5 million hectares of accessible forest in PNG has been logged, leaving behind cut-over forests.
Mr Yosi, whose home village, Zare in Morobe Patrol Post, is surrounded by the pristine forest of the Waria Valley, is also studying for a PhD at the University of Melbourne’s Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science as an ACIAR John Allwright Fellow.
The ACIAR project is based in PNG’s Mamose Region, where there are about 550,000 hectares of cut-over forest. The communities taking part are Sogi in Madang province (20,000ha) and Yalu (5,000ha) and Gabensis (2000ha) in Morobe province.
Mr Yosi, of PNG’s Forest Research Institute, is working with Australian researchers, PNG authorities and community groups to quantify the make-up of species, growth rates and carbon storage in the cut-over forests. The research team plans to develop sustainable harvesting regimes for the remaining trees and identify new income opportunities for local communities.
ACIAR forestry research program manager Dr Russell Haines says there is potential for local communities to tap into premium markets for sustainably harvested Fairtrade-certified timbers, with Australian businesses already offering a 20-40 per cent premium for certified products from PNG. Other opportunities include the harvesting of mushrooms for local markets, timber and rattan for local furniture manufacture and timber for local construction or export of community-produced wood to high-value markets.
The techniques being developed for assessing forest resources, including carbon storage, are likely to be applicable to other island countries with complex forest system similar to those of PNG.
University of Melbourne, Australia
Village Development Trust, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute, Papua New Guinea
Australian National University, Australia
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