PNG has been at the forefront of REDD+ negotiations globally since 2005 when PNG and Costa Rica introduced the concept of reducing emissions from deforestation to the 33rd UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC). Over this time, the Government of PNG has worked to lead international discussions on REDD+ while building capacity and testing approaches to REDD+ domestically as part of a broader approach to climate change.
PNG’s early efforts on climate change were formalized in 2008 with the establishment of the Office of Climate Change and Environment Sustainability (OCCES), which was re-established as the Office of Climate Change and Development (OCCD) in 2010 and, following the passing of the Climate Change Management Act (CCMA) in 2015, has now become the Climate Change Development Authority (CCDA). This organization has been central to moving REDD+ readiness developments forward including through the establishment of a technical working group for REDD+, the development of pilot projects in partnership with PNG Forest Authority (PNGFA), development partners and the private sector, the development of the Climate Compatible Development Management Policy, and the REDD+ Roadmap in 2010, around which government action and development partner support has been structured.
Between 2011 and 2017 PNG, with support from development partners including the UN-REDD Programme (implemented by UNDP, FAO and UNEP), JICA, GIZ, the EU and the FCPF Readiness Fund (implemented through UNDP), worked to increase capacity and understanding of REDD+ across key stakeholders within the country as part of the REDD+ Readiness Phase of REDD+ development. PNG has also assessed the drivers of forest cover change through partnership between CCDA and PNGFA as well as UNDP and FAO and developing the four key components of REDD+ namely (1) National REDD+ Strategy (NRS), (2) Safeguards Information System (SIS), (3) National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS), and (5) Forest Reference Level (FRL).
To catalyze change within the forest and land use sector towards a new responsible economy with lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), stronger long term economic growth and community livelihoods and the effective conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services while ensuring that Papua New Guinea’s forest resources are used in a sustainable and equitable manner for the benefit of current and future generations.
Papua New Guinea has one of the most significant areas of largely intact tropical forest in the world, although these forests appear to be facing acute and imminent threats. Forests are a vital resource for the local population particularly in the remote rural areas of Papua New Guinea, providing food, fiber, building materials, and support a variety of wildlife and ecosystem services. The Papua New Guinea Forest Authority estimates that 80% of the total area of the country is covered by natural forests, of which 52% are considered production forests (for timber and other products), and 48% are for conservation (not for timber extraction due to inaccessibility or ecological constraints).
The country’s forests are important to the country’s economy, with forest industries contributing approximately 380 million Kina per year to the government and landowners through tax, permits and royalties. However, deforestation and forest degradation related to forest industries and other activities have resulted in the depletion of these important benefits and released significant green house gas emissions. Sustainable management of the country’s forest resources is crucial for reducing global emissions as well as helping to ensure forest resources are available for future generations in Papua New Guinea.
There are five REDD+ Activities under the UNFCC, including (1) Reducing emissions from deforestation, (2) Reducing emissions from forest degradation, (3) Conservation of forest carbon stocks, (4) Sustainable management of forest, and (5) Enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
Within Papua New Guinea, deforestation, forest degradation are the primary sources of emissions and as such were chosen for inclusion within its Forest Reference Level.
Countries engaging in the UNFCCC mechanism on REDD+ are required to provide a Forest Reference Level (FRL), which sets out information on the levels of historic emissions and removals from a country’s forests as well as a prediction of future trends. The FRL is thus the baseline against which emission reductions are measured.
The PNG REDD+ Activities included in its modified Forest Reference Level to the UNFCCC include deforestation, forest degradation and carbon stock enhancement. Although no activities on carbon stock enhancement were detected during the historical reference period (2000 – 2013) by the forest and land use assessment using Collect Earth, recently set policy by Government of PNG targets 800, 000 Ha of tree planting. Therefore, tree planting is anticipated to become one of the significant REDD+ activities in the near future.
The three REDD+ Activities for PNG to be reported are defined according to conversions between land-use types, as follows: