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Land of the Unexpected

In a globalized world of expanding cities and depleted natural resources, Papua New Guinea is considered one of only 17 megadiverse countries in the world – a beacon of hope for restoring our planet’s health.
A place of exceptional natural wealth and biodiversity, PNG contains over seven per cent of the world’s total number of species.

The reason for this exceptional conservation is the people of Papua New Guinea, who share a profound and long-lasting connection with nature.

Sangga was born in Oro province in Papua New Guinea, home to the Queen Alexandra’s birdwing butterfly – the world’s largest butterfly. “Throughout our existence, we Papua New Guineans have worked together with nature. It forms part of our identity and culture; it forms the stories, songs and dances that we pass to the next generation, and it hosts our sacred sites. It is so important that it is enshrined in our country’s constitution as a human right... Rural communities maintain the country’s biodiversity because it is part of their cultural identity – it provides their livelihoods, and it feeds their families. They perform a service for the planet, and yet they are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and receive very little financial support to manage what is a global public good”

However, Papua New Guinea’s biodiversity - and the communities that are the custodians of the country’s natural wealth - are under threat. Population growth, logging and industrial-scale monoculture all conspire to destroy habitat. Papua New Guinea’s low altitude forests have been lost at a rate of between 3 and 5% per annum for more than a decade.

Sea levels have risen by about 7mm per year since 1993, and the level of ocean acidification has been slowly increasing.

“so few people have visited Papua New Guinea; we need to show the world both how wonderful our biodiversity is, but also demonstrate that their financial support is making a tangible impact and being used effectively."

"We need to look to the future of conservation in the country. The marine environment historically has been under-supported, but the blue economy has immense potential in Papua New Guinea."

In the past half-century, PNG’s exceptional natural environments has been depleted at an alarming rate and scale.

But PNG is working hard to ensure its natural treasures remain for another lifetime, for future generations of Papua New Guineans - and the wider world - to enjoy.

Story Information:

Country: Papua New Guinea

Topic: Biodiversity

Photo or video credit: Muhammad Nasir/, Matt Curnock, Amanda Cotton/Ocean Image Bank, POM Nature Park,

Text Credit: Zola Sangga

Date : 19 October 2022

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