Implementing REDD+ in Papua New Guinea: Can biodiversity indicators be effectively integrated in PNG's National Forest Inventory?
UNFCCC's “Cancun safeguards” (COP 16, 2010) provide a strong call for comprehensive steps to prevent harm to biodiversity from REDD+ activities and to support its conservation. However, as non-binding ‘principles’ and due to their general wording, they are not operational in the present form. Additionally, the scientific literature on biodiversity monitoring for REDD+ is still very limited, particularly when it comes to REDD+ in tropical forests and at the national scale. Whereas some authors suggest that biodiversity integration can be achieved by means of standardised protocols and techniques, others consider an effective monitoring of biodiversity in tropical forests at the national scale may be an impossible task to achieve in a cost-effective way. However, recent research offers some functional approaches to tackle the many challenges involved. This paper explores the perspectives and limits of developing and effectively incorporating appropriate biodiversity objectives and indicators in Papua New Guinea's multipurpose National Forest Inventory (PNG's NFI). The PNG NFI is currently being designed under the UN-REDD programme as a key component of the National Forest Monitoring System that PNG is required to establish in order to participate in a future REDD+ mechanism. We conclude that the challenge cannot be effectively tackled only at the design stage of the NFI, as it needs to address a number of issues related to different stages of the REDD+ preparedness process: –If biodiversity integration is carried out directly at the NFI stage, it will need to rely on proxies derived from indicators designed to monitor carbon stock change; –At the planning stage, a carbon-biodiversity overlay map analysis would allow for a preliminary selection of areas of high biodiversity that could be threatened by REDD+ activities either directly, or indirectly through “leakage”; –During the implementation stage the selection could be refined by identifying a sub-sample of sites where forests are undergoing the greatest changes; –A comprehensive biodiversity monitoring programme involving field measurements of key species could only be designed once the priority areas have been clearly defined and limited in both number and size.