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Land and Resources, Environmental Issues

marine dumping, Fly River, copper mining, endangered species, poor country

Like many developing nations, Papua New Guinea faces significant environmental problems. Gold and copper mining has polluted waterways with untreated heavy-metal runoff. This runoff is particularly a problem in the Fly River. Soil erosion is a problem in areas cleared for agricultural use. Papua New Guinea contains some of the least disturbed tropical forests in the world, but some destruction of forest areas has occurred. The annual rate of deforestation is 0.36 percent (1990-2000). In part because of the loss of forest habitat, 122 (2001) species in Papua New Guinea are threatened with extinction.

Papua New Guinea is a poor country and environmental controls, which are costly, generally receive less attention than they do in developed nations. Still, the government is addressing some environmental issues. Concerns about deforestation, for example, prompted the government to cease issuing new logging permits for two years in the early 1990s. A forest conservation program is in force, and the government encourages ecotourism as a source of revenue. Papua New Guinea is party to international treaties concerning climate change, endangered species, marine dumping, ship pollution, tropical timber, and wetlands.



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