Problems in the forests of New Guinea
Nothing to worry about?
But the picture is misleading. The destructive environmental forces we observe in so many other tropical forests all over the world are already at work here. Deforestation, pollution, overhunting… these issues are increasingly common in several places in New Guinea.
The race for resources extractionThe development of some countries often takes place at the expense of others. In New Guinea, many forests are being looted illegally to cover massive demands from the booming economies of China and other countries.
Traders and loggers use “gloves off” methodologies to access timber at all costs. Illegal logging involving intimidation and corruption is widespread, which can cause resentment, strife, and encourages further bad governance.
In addition, forests are being converted to large-scale commercial plantations, often using unsustainable practices.
Riches above and below the groundBut it’s not just about what is above the ground that is being exploited. Extractive industries also focus on New Guinea’s significant oil, gas, and mineral reserves. The track-record of these industries show they can cause severe environmental damage, particularly in fragile wetlands and watersheds.
Targeted wildlifeHunting, by traditional methods and more recently with firearms, is a major concern for several species. The illegal wildlife trade, a component of the black market in Papua Province in Indonesia, threatens bird populations such as lories and cockatoos.
Some other species at risk don't have legs to escape. For example, the trees that form the precious agarwood, a fragrant substance found inside them, are at risk of being lost because of intensive trade.