TROBRIAND ISLANDS’ FORESTS DYING

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By Nikints Tiptip

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (August 25, 1999 – The National)---The fast depletion of forest on the Trobriand Islands in Milne Bay province will be an environmental problem in the next 20 years unless it is stopped, Environment and Conservation Director Dr. Wari Iamo said yesterday.

Iamo said the danger is erosion if the rate of intensive gardening is not closely monitored or reforestation is not done quickly.

Iamo, who visited the Trobriand Islands over the weekend with Environment and Conservation and Rural Development Minister William Ebenosi, said most of Kiriwina is now covered in grassland as a result of intensive gardening in the past.

Iamo said yam gardening was common and because people could not live without yams, which is their staple food and a pride of their culture, they have to make new gardens, consequently cutting down more trees.

"When all the trees are cut, the danger is soil erosion and even strong winds can sweep the islands bare if there are no trees left," he said.

He said what needed to be done now was reforestation in order to save the Islands.

Losuia is almost covered in grass except for the few trees left along the coastlines of Kaibola and Waowela beaches.

Iamo said funding could be sought from donor countries or other aid donors to organize a proper reforestation plan in order to save the life of the island and its inhabitants.

He said yam festivals are part of the people's culture and livelihood and because of such pressure, people tend to do more gardening.

Trees are being cut too often. People do not let a particular bush area rest for at least ten years to recover, before a new garden is made, he said.

Iamo said this practice of over using the land could also reduce the fertility of the soil.

MEMBER KEEN TO DEVELOP TROBRIAND ISLANDS

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (August 25, 1999 – The National)---Infrastructure development in the Trobriand Islands, one of the most isolated areas in PNG, is slowly taking shape through the efforts of Kiriwina/Goodenough MP William Ebenosi.

Ebenosi made a brief visit to Losuia, Trobriand Islands, over the weekend as Minister for Environment and Conservation and Rural Development to assess the development progress in the electorate and observe the social impact on the environment.

Ebenosi was given a big welcome by the Losuia local level government council and the people for being given the ministry and for returning home with that status.

Speaking to gatherings at different villages, Ebenosi said that despite the poor state of the economy he would bring infrastructure development into the Islands as much as possible.

He has already built several schools on the Islands, while construction of classrooms and aid posts were under way in some areas as additional programs.

Ebenosi also visited Vakuta Island south of Losuia where three villagers gave pigs and yams as a gesture of welcome.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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