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Papua New Guinea

Yearbook 2008

Papua New Guinea. With satellite imagery as the basis, an international research group presented a report during the year on the rapid calving of Papua New Guinea's rainforests over the past 30 years. In total, the country has lost five million hectares of forest, and according to the researchers, current safeguards are insufficient. The logging rate suggests that the country may lose most of its forest by 2021. The reason is commercial harvesting, burning and planting of palm oil plantations. Timber exports were 2.5 billion cubic meters in 2006. Papua New Guinea has the third largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon and Congo (Kinshasa), and it holds great biodiversity.

2008 Papua New Guinea

According to Countryaah reports, Prime Minister Michael Somare signed an agreement with his Australian colleague Kevin Rudd in March to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including through increased protection of the rainforest.

In June, Joseph Kabui, president of the Bougainville Autonomous Region, passed away. Kabui was elected Bougainville's first president in 2005 after playing a pivotal role in establishing peace after the bloody civil war on the island between 1989 and 1997. New presidential elections were held in December and won by 43-year-old former guerrilla leader James Tanis.

Papua New Guinea's state oil company Petromin signed an agreement with Canadian company InterOil on the extraction of gas in the Gulf province during the year. InterOil, which operates Papua New Guinea's only oil refinery, has found a large gas field in the Gulf province. It will be Papua New Guinea's second liquefied gas production project. The first facility is being built for the equivalent of approximately SEK 50 billion and gas deliveries are expected in 2012. Landowners on the planned gas field in the province of Southern Highlands brought the state to trial during the year and accused the government of selling the country's energy resources without legal consultation with local authorities. Despite Papua New Guinea's vast natural riches, about 85 percent of the population lives as self-sustaining farmers.

The government decided during the year that Papua New Guinea will get its first national television station, the National Television Service (NTS). At the same time, ministers threatened to restrict the freedom of the press if it continued to publish "government-hostile" articles. The reaction followed a newspaper's information about a private ministerial account in Singapore with the equivalent of nearly SEK 300 million used in illegal activities. Prime Minister Somare explained to journalists that they would be grateful that he had not "deported" any of them.

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