June 02, 2008
Rapid Destruction Of Papua New Guinea Rainforests

A new study finds that the rain forests of Papua New Guinea are getting destroyed much faster than the Amazon.

Their study found that PNG's forests were being cleared or degraded at a rate of 1.4% per year in 2002, increasing to 1.7% per year in 2007. If clearing and degradation continues unchecked, over half of the forest that existed when PNG became independent from Australia in 1975 will have been destroyed by 2021, according to the report. The Brazilian Amazon is losing forest at the rate of 0.9% per year.

Asian industrialization is raising the demand for timber. So the rate of destruction will probably accelerate.

PNG has a lot of unique species.

Logging and road building are already leading to erosion and fragmentation of ecosystems harboring some of the world’s most varied, and least-studied, wildlife, said Phil Shearman, the lead author and director of the Remote Sensing Center of the University of Papua New Guinea. The study is available online at gis.mortonblacketer.com.au/upngis/.

PNG has a disproportionate fraction of all the planet's species.

Although it only accounts for less than 0.5% of the Earth's land cover, the heavily forested island nation is home to an estimated 6-7% of the planet's species.

Birth control would help.

Papua New Guinea's tropical rainforest - the world's third largest - is not only being logged by timber firms but also cleared for subsistence farming, in a country of 6m people with one of the highest population growth rates in the world.

So far I do not see technological advances slowing the rate of habitat destruction. The opposite seems to be the case.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 June 02 11:14 PM  Trends Habitat Loss

aa2 said at June 3, 2008 4:36 AM:

Want to save the environment? Donate to groups trying to provide birth control pharmacueticals and operations to third world peoples with high birthrates. If the people of Papua New Guinea have 2 children per woman on average the population will remain constant. If they have 6 children per woman the population will triple in a single generation.. and grow by 10 times over this century.

Anything else besides supporting limiting birth rates in the third world is a futile effort to save environments. AFTER the birthrate is under control, is when you look at other things.

Allan said at June 3, 2008 4:54 AM:

aa2 is right in many respects. Slow the population grow and you can slow the destruction. Many countries have significantly lowered their fertility rates and all the better. With a lower birthrate in Central America there will be less pressure in the future for illegal immigration.

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