Activist proposes repentance for environment

Weekender
Locals who used to work on the Mt Hagen trek with Nickson McManga.
Climate change activist Nickson McManga with a tree seedling.
CLIMATE CHANGE

By PETER KINJAP
CLIMATE change is a global crisis and is already a multi-sectorial issue. It takes every living person in this decade to do something, big or small, to reduce the carbon emissions and prepare to adapt to changes in weather patterns.
A Nickson McManga, 35 years old, from Kumdii in Western Highlands is PNG’s Greta Thunberg in a small way.
Nickson did his research, collecting and digesting the climate change information using the internet. He is a local environmental activist, starting from his home village in Kumdii, telling people in every public gathering when he has the chance about the impacts of the global climate changes. He is creative and very vocal on climate issues.
“The world is approaching towards catastrophic climate impact, growing old each day. Amongst many approaches taken to address climate crisis, there is one effective approach remaining and that is planting more trees,” Nickson says.
“Tree planting can only help reduce the great amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As trees grow, they absorb and store carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heat,” he added.
Tree planting initiatives already exist, but the concept has to be simple and sustainable for the stakeholders to participate in the programme.
Nickson started a local environmental and eco-tourism activism group known as Paradise of Kumdii Climate Change Awareness. The group comprises of well-known climate crews from Mt Hagen who volunteered to trek for three days from Kumdii village to Kumul Lodge near the border of Western Highlands and Wapenamanda electorate in Enga.
“We normally host national climate change awareness programmes at end of October each year to the first week of November. A seven-member crew takes the seven-day journey from Western Highland to the capital, Port Moresby” an energised McManga says.
“The purpose of this walkathon is to make people aware of the effects of climate change and to promote ecotourism in Papua New Guinea as well; to celebrate, promote, and encourage our people to protect and preserve our unique cultures and traditions and the pristine environments in which we live in through ecotourism practices in Papua New Guinea,” he added.
“Everyone is now talking about the impact of climate change – from diplomats to politicians to NGOs and individuals from within Papua New Guinea and abroad. But to support the campaign against the effects of climate change, those seven-men have planted 30 trees each in their own communities before they commenced their journey from Mt Hagen to Port Moresby via Lae, by boat to Popodetta and trekking Kokoda Trail to Port Moresby,” he said.


At the Mt Hagen trek, Nickson with part of his seven-man squad who plant trees. – Pictures courtesy of T4GPNG

“We have continued to carry out this programme for the last three years. At a later stage, all men above age of 18 years old will be tasked to plant three trees to commemorate Nov 3 of every year to support Paris Climate Change Agreement,” Nickson says.
“Since 2018 to 2019 and this year 2020 will be the final year for our three years of volunteer awareness for climate change. We chose Nov 3 because we normally arrive consecutively on the first week of November for the last two years. Therefore, we the volunteers proposed Nov 3 to be observed as a “National Environment Repentance Day.”
On the day, every year round, the following activities can be observed:
Every man and woman above age of 18 shall plant three trees each
Environment Repentance Day is to repent from our bad actions towards earth and environment, to defile the earth and its inhabitants.
Awareness on the important of tree and its long term sustainable development to address climate change and the benefits to the environment and society in which we live.

Tree planting
“So far we have planted 420 trees already along the Mt Hagen Trek. This year the seven-man crew will continue to plant another 30 trees each before continue their journey. The total of 630 trees will be panted after three years of campaign by those seven men, as part of our volunteerism to support global climate change,” Nickson says.
“If the Papua New Guinea Government through the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment Protection accept our volunteer policy on the tree planning concept, it is anticipated that in the future we can save millions of kina by planting millions trees on an easy and most effective and convenient way. If we have the PNG National Environment Repentance Day gazette into the National Events Council to be observed nationwide, then it will become an individual concern to take care of our environment and look after it,” he added.
“If we have 8 million in Papua New Guinea, let’s say 5 million of them are above the age of 18 years old. Out of the 5million if 2.2 million people can participate at the first stage of tree planting by starting off next year 2021 we can approximately plant 6.6 million trees,” Nickson says.
“And what if after three years 5 million people above age of 18 plants three trees every year come Nov 3. I suggest a total of 15 million trees can be planted all across Papua New Guinea. Maybe we can achieve 2030 vision for United Nations (UN) for 10-million trees in just one year? Just imagine after seven years, how many trees will be planted? Nearly a billion trees.”
Nickson comes from a background of pastoring with Healing The Land (HTL) missionary group after graduating with a Certificate in Bible Translation at the Summer Institute of Linguistics in Eastern Highlands. For the last 10 years, he has been studying and working with the environment and human activities, repentance to environment damages caused with HTL through which he finds his inspiration to advocate for environmental concerns and fight for climate crisis.
“We would like to extend our interest to participate in the upcoming tree planting programme facilitated and funded by World Bank/USAID through the office of Minister for Environment Conservation and Climate Change Department. As we are genuine volunteers and stakeholder for such activity. If there is any possibility for us to carry out tree planting in the upper highlands, we are ready,” he says.
Nickson is pushing the idea to be accepted by the Government of Papua New Guinea via Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) as well as Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) to commemorate Nov 3 as PNG’s National Environment Repentance Day. The World Environment Day falls on June 5th every year.
Nickson’s group has teamed up with Travel4Green (T4G) PNG, www.t4gpng.org, on its programme to plant 10 million trees by 2030. T4G PNG is a not-for-profit private project that has a nationwide volunteer network on climate change issues, including planting more trees/mangroves and also to conserve the standing forests and REDD+ awareness and education.

  • Peter Kinjap is a freelance correspondent on Climate Change issues (REDD+ in PNG) and advocates for Travel4Green (T4G) PNG project. Email: pekinjap@gmail.com

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