Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Papua Environmental Atlas

The Papua region, which makes up the Indonesian half of the island of New Guinea, is largely undeveloped. While this lack of development is wonderful for the environment it also means that 53 percent of the population doesn't have access to electricity. More than 25% of people living in the Papua region also live below the poverty line.

The government of Indonesia has decided to accelerate infrastructure development in the Papua region. This may have some positive benefits for some of the indigenous population. It could also have a hugely negative effect on the environment. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has therefore released a new interactive mapping tool which it hopes will help planners, officials and policymakers monitor the environmental effects of new infrastructure projects.

The Papua Atlas allows users to view forest loss, plantation & mine development, and road construction. The map uses satellite data dating back to 2001 which can be used to create time-lapse animations which show the impacts of logging, plantation development and road building. It includes a number of different tools for exploring how infrastructure projects are impacting on the local environment. For example you can visualize forest loss for 1 km on either side of public roads to visualize the impact of road development on the immediate environment.

So far the Papua region has managed to avoid the fate of the island of Borneo. In 1973 three quarters of Borneo was covered in tropical forest. Since 1973 over one third of that forest has been lost due to industrial logging and the spread of industrial oil palm and pulpwood plantations. CIFOR's original interactive deforestation map, the Borneo Atlas, shows where Borneo's tropical forests have been lost and the incredible scale of this continuing deforestation. Hopefully CIFOR's new Papua Atlas will help the Papua region avoid the same levels of deforestation.

No comments: