This is the reality, even though PNG has ratified the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and has committed to protecting 17 percent of terrestrial area, and 10 percent of marine areas by 2020.
In his World Environment Day speech, Roy Trivedy, UNDP Resident Representative and the UN Resident Coordinator in PNG, said the existing levels of protection in place for PNG's terrestrial and marine biodiversity are inadequate. This is in the face of global as well as national challenges, including population growth rates, consumption and production patterns, deforestation and climate change.
"By 2040 it is possible that PNG's population could reach over 17 million people and this will put additional pressure on the land, sea and other natural resources,” Trivedy stated.
“This, together with the threats posed by less predictable weather patterns, is already resulting in more frequent and intense events such as floods and landslides."
With the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA), UNDP has prepared a Protected Areas Bill to establish and manage a national system of “Protected Areas” in the country.
The Bill will reclassify protected areas into National protected areas (which includes National Parks, Marine Sanctuaries, National Heritage Areas and Special Management Areas) and Regional Protected Areas to help preserve some of PNG's nearly 18,900 known unique plants and thousands of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and coral.
"This network of protected areas will enable the country to protect its natural resources in a way that will promote economic growth through creation of opportunities like eco-tourism and jobs, as well as safeguarding resources for future generations,” Trivedy said.
The Bill will also establish a Biodiversity Trust Fund and a ‘small grants scheme’, to assist communities to use existing natural resources to improve livelihoods and overcome poverty. A series of stakeholder consultations commenced in May and will continue until December 2017.
(Picture: CNN Travel)