Over 18,000+ hectares of forestry plantations will be established in the Markham Valley within the Morobe Region of PNG . The final plantation development will have more than 20 million trees and will be planted over a three to five year period to enable the project to support 30+ MW of power.
The plantation will be developed using short rotation species such as Eucalyptus pellita, a species of tree that is indigenous to PNG, has been selected as the principal feedstock for the PNG Biomass Power project.
The trees will be harvested every 4 – 7 years to produce approximately 200,000 tonnes of dry wood annually to supply 30 MW power plant. This will be about 25 truckloads per day of wood fuel for each 15 MW power unit.
The plantations are being designed to ensure that they comply with international sustainability criteria and can be certified sustainable by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) based in Germany, which is the highest recognised international standard for environmental and social sustainability in forestry. The project will also work to the principles of the Round Table for Sustainable Biofuels including the principle of ensuring food security for thelocal communities.
The plantations are to be developed on a mix of communal and state land. To date MOUs have been signed with landowners over approximately 22,000 hectares of communal land. It is the intention of the project team to ensure that local villages are able to expand their food and cash crops in parallel with the plantation tree cropswhere possible. PNG Biomass is promoting the co-planting of food crops within the tree plantations to provide the community with additional revenue streams where they can take crops to market for additional income.
The project team has conducted extensive trials of the last two and half years to develop an extensive plan for silviculture. In addition, a program of productivity improvement continues with a comprehensive series of trials and the selection of candidate clones for trialling and eventual commercial deployment. It is the projects plan to be establishing 100% clonal plantations of Eucalyptus pellita hybrids within 5 years, significantly improving the productivity of the plantation.