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Australian program to reduce greenhouse gases

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 20, 2008) - Papua New Guinea will benefit from an Australian forestry aid package worth PGK5.4 million [US$2 million].

The package is to help developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region reduce greenhouse gas emissions by tackling deforestation and forest degradation.

Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke announced the funding following a meeting with PNG’s Minister for Forests Belden Namah in Port Moresby yesterday.

Mr. Burke will meet Indonesian Forestry Minister MS Kaban in Jakarta tomorrow.

The funding is the first to be provided under the four-year Asia-Pacific forestry skills and capacity building program, which will commit up to PGK37.1 million [US$15 million] in total to assist Asia-Pacific with the sustainable management of their forests.

The program will fund an initial 18 projects in countries including PNG, Indonesia, Vietnam, Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

Projects in PNG and Indonesia will each receive AU$400,000 (PGK916,000) for skills training and capacity building in forest certification and AU$300,000 (PGK687,000) for professional education in sustainable forest management.

Projects in PNG will also receive AU$106,000 (PGK243,000) towards a chain-of-custody system for forest products, and AU$74,000 (PGK169,000) for training in the restoration, management and rehabilitation of degraded, logged-out secondary forests in the Pacific.

Projects in Indonesia will also receive AU$300,000 for hands-on training in sustainable forest management and AU$150,000 (PGK343,000) towards capacity-building in fire and fuels research and monitoring.

"Today’s announcement supports Australia’s commitment at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali in December last year to support action on deforestation in developing countries as part of a global response to climate change," Burke said.

He said the Asia-Pacific forestry skills and capacity building program will help to tackle climate change by assisting countries in the region with their forest management expertise, combating illegal logging and boosting the storage of carbon in their forests.

Burke said the program is a key part of the Rudd Government’s PGK469.7 million (AU$214 million) international forest carbon initiative, through which Australia is showing international leadership in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

"Estimates show there is global deforestation of around 13 million hectares a year, resulting in around 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions."

Burke said under the Asia-Pacific forestry skills and capacity building program, funding will be provided to research, conservation, inter-governmental, industry and non-government groups to support sustainable forest management and improve forest law enforcement and governance.

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