The island of New Guinea hosts the third largest expanse of tropical rainforest on the planet. Papua New Guinea—comprising the eastern half of the island—plans to nearly double its national road network (from 8,700 to 15,000 km) over the next three years, to spur economic growth. We assessed these plans using fine-scale biophysical and environmental data. We identified numerous environmental and socioeconomic risks associated with these projects, including the dissection of 54 critical biodiversity habitats and diminished forest connectivity across large expanses of the island.
This report stems from a simple observation: that since Independence in 1975, Papua New Guinea’s economic and social development outcomes have not matched people’s aspirations or government promises. Indeed, despite the abundance of its riches, PNG lags behind its Pacific neighbours on many important development indicators.