Forests of all types perform a number of essential services for the existence of our universe. These tasks include filtering the air we breathe and the water we drink; regulate our climate by absorbing one third of the global greenhouse gases emitted each year; provide habitat to 80 per cent of all known terrestrial species, while indigenous cultures depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy, medicines and income.
Despite all that they provide, forest loss continues at an unprecedented rate. We continue to lose millions of hectares of forests every year to logging, mining, agriculture, and infrastructure development. Today, a vast number of plant and animal species are at risk of extinction due to habitat destruction.
Papua New Guinea (including the landmass of West Papua) is host to 5% of global biodiversity and home to the third largest intact rainforests in the world. However, deforestation is threatening Papua New Guineas status as a biological mecca.
As Papua New Guineans, we should always take pride in our land and have an intrinsic connection to our forests and all it supplies, however in recent times it is seen as if those connections or ties to one’s forest plus the land has lost its value, which is a principle that we need to revive and restore in our nation.
“Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being” is this year’s theme for International Day of Forest. This theme is ambitious and is fitting for Papua New Guinea given the circumstances that forest is being lost at an alarming rate in the country. We cannot be observers and let our forests continually being degraded.