By VERONICA AURE
ACCORDING to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) “global climate change already has observable effects on the environment. Scientists had predicted in the past would result from global climate change are now occurring: loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves.’ (https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/)
It is very sad but a reality that the “rapidly changing climate patterns, increasing population growth and intensity and levels of uses of natural ecosystems affect the ability of systems to respond to change. PNG has already been buffeted by extreme weather and climate events such as those brought about by the El Nino in 1997/98 with further changes in temperatures and sea level rise predicted over the next 100 years.’ (https://www.adaptation-undp.org/explore/melanesia/papua-new-guinea?page=1)
A good example of the drastic effect of climate change can be seen in the village of Airara in the Collingwood Bay of Cape Nelson LLG, Northern.
The sea level has risen and the heat waves are more intense forcing local villagers to move inland leaving behind their once beautiful beach shore village.
Seventy-eight-year-old Cecil Aburin, who was once a Southern Region post master with Post PNG, recalls his early days with a smirk on his face:
“Airara always had the cleanest and most beautiful shores in the whole of Collingwood Bay. I would always boast about my small village in the bay during my travels and work experience. But I can sadly say now, it’s not the same anymore.”
He said his people have now moved inland because the beachfront village is not conducive to normal life anymore. Aburin says that their catches at sea have decreased in volume, crops have decreased in size and diseases have increased both in humans and plants alike.
He adds that he would like to see a lot more involvement by organisations like Partners With Melanesians (PWM) who care about empowering local communities so that they are in control and able to make informed decisions regarding the use of their natural environment.
“I commend Partners With Melanesians in taking this stand with the people of Collingwood Bay to conserve our land. Collingwood Bay is beautiful and its time we realise that and preserve our land for our future generations. This will in a long run also help in mitigating the effects of climate change,”
He says he’d like to be around when Collingwood Bay gets declared as a conservation or protected area. “I hope this day will come soon because I don’t know for how long I will be around. I have my fair share of stories to tell about Airara and I want my children and grandchildren too to also have their own stories to tell one day in beautiful Collingwood Bay.”
Partners With Melanesians recently had a joint planning meeting with representatives from the proposed Collingwood Bay Conservation Foundation (CWBCF) in Airara from April 26 to May 3.
The purpose of the planning meeting was to inform and educate the CWBCF representatives regarding the activities under PWM’s eight programmes which will be implemented in Collingwood Bay this year.
Also, the meeting was to formally introduce all programme coordinators of PWM to the people of Collingwood Bay and familiarise them with the environment in which they will be working in.
PWM envisions Melanesian societies to live in peace and harmony with their nature and their environment
The author is the Community Empowerment and Communications Coordinator for PWM.