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USAID to run new biodiversity study in PNG

A NEW biodiversity study by US aid agency (USAID) will be under taken for the next five months in Papua New Guinea. Environmental lobby group Partners with Melanesians has been co-ordinating these workshops for the planned study specifically on environmental policies.

Director for Partners with Melanesians Ken Mondia said at one of its meetings last week that study should be completed in March. PNG’s land areas spans about 46 million hectares, with about 70 per cent covered in forests highly valued for their unique biodiversity.

With more than 15,000 plant species, more than 200 mammal and about 1000 birds, PNG would continue to draw multitudes of studies and this is study is just one of many. One of the highlights of the meeting was when Paul Pavol, a forest defender from East New Britain who recently won a US environment award was awarded cash and books from bird specialist Dr Guy Dutson who has written a book on birds of Melanesia and studies birds in Pomio, Kimbe and Nakanai Mountains.

Last month Paul Pavol, 44, a customary landowner from Pomio in East New Britain, was awarded the fifth annual Alexander Soros Foundation Award for Environmental and Human Rights Activism.  His fight were against logging companies and special agriculture business lease, or SABL, and oil palms that caused environmental damage to the land held under customary tenure by his Mengen people. Also his campaigns involved road blocks to prevent the movement of logs, and circulating petitions to build support against logging. Mr Pavol campaign was to raise awareness on PNG’s environmental policies.
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