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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 25, 2000 – Post-Courier)---Many Papua New Guineans are ignorant about issues concerning the environment, a three-day meeting organized by the South Pacific Regional Environmental Program has concluded.

According to Environment and Conservation officers, public awareness and educational seminars on the importance of preserving and sustaining the environment is a priority that must be carried out.

Apart from a lack of public knowledge, the meeting also concluded that the country's existing laws and regulations do not fully address environment and conservation issues in the country.

"What the country lacks is technical expertise" to effectively carry out its mandate, said Narua Lovai, deputy director of the Office of Environment and Conservation.

According to Mr. Lovai, there were activities in the areas of environment and conservation that the office had been given but could not do much as they lacked technical expertise.

He said legislation on carbon trading will also need to be further developed.

First Assistant Director for Conservation John Genolagani said PNG needs policies on biodiversity and stricter rules on the bringing in of invasive species of plants and animals.

Mr. Genolagani said strict rules of logging practices and the protection of flora and fauna also needed to be implemented.

He said regulations on the trade of the country's naturally genetic resources must also be enforced.

These and other loopholes in some of the country's environment and conservation legislation were highlighted during the meeting between SPREP Director Tamariri Tutangata and others involved in environment and conservation.

Mr. Tutangata was on a country visit to gauge the views of people in the industry to learn how SPREP could contribute to developing regulatory measures to safeguard the environment.

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

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