A new satellite analysis of logging in Papua New Guinea shows that the country has been losing about 1,400 square miles of rain forest, or about 1.4 percent of its total forest cover, each year.
At that pace, by 2021 more than 80 percent of the country’s accessible forest, and more than half of its total forest area, would be badly degraded or cleared, according to the study. It was conducted by scientists at the University of Papua New Guinea and Australian National University.
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/.
In an e-mail message, Mr. Shearman said there was still plenty of potential for cut areas to regenerate, but only if policies were changed to end what is essentially uncontrolled “timber mining.