Bosavi holds key to our future

Editorial, Normal

IT is uncertain how many people in PNG might have watched the three-part magnificent series by the BBC team on scenic Mt Bosavi in the Southern Highlands province.
The series, which was advertised extensively by that world premier broadcaster, exposed PNG in a manner rarely done in the past.
It showed a very small part of the immense wealth of flora and fauna that this island nation has to offer the world.
The series was altogether positive. It had none of the hive and innuendo associated with crime or primitive tribes just emerged from a cannibalistic tendencies which is normally the efforts of small time fly by night amateurs or by those with a one track mind or even those just out to sell a sensationalist story.
Taking a small part of our land such as the extinct volcano that is Mt Bosavi to the world in a professionally produced series showed just how many new animals and insects there are in this land which is little known to science before the BBC team visited.
While yet not officially declared as new finds by the scientific community, the team that spent months on Mt Bosavi are not just picture makers. They included natural scientists and we would expect their conclusions to be quite well informed.
It was rather disappointing that very little has been made of that magnificent work. Hardly a mention has been made of this quite remarkable effort by the BBC team. Watching the series several months after it went to air worldwide is quite breathtaking. Living here we would never know the full extent of what our jungles, forests and rivers hold.
This is what the Government through the Tourism Promotion Authority ought to be promoting to the world.
All too often governments have been fighting rearguard actions against negative publicity about the social upheavals that occur in the country, most likely the result of growing pains of a developing nation and about the country’s late introduction to the modern age.
When tremendously positive footage about PNG such as the Mt Bosavi series hits the airwaves, there is hardly a ripple in PNG. It is almost as if Papua New Guinea and, particularly, its leadership is primed to respond only to negative publicity all the time.
The Government ought to be inviting scientists and BBC or National Geographic teams for long stays in all parts of PNG to film the natural beauty of this country.
Quite apart from the actual recording on plants and animals that are not yet known to science, there are other events which need to be recorded just for their passing phase.
If atolls and islands are sinking because of sea level rises, more is the case to document such events for posterity. Just what different types of plants and animal lives on these islands and atolls are affected?
So far, we have only looked at such issues from the human perspective, rarely from the plants and animals. How are plant and animal live responding to massive dislocations such as mining and logging projects?
The world is always looking for new places to explore and discover. PNG, we would submit, has all the attributes to provide the ultimate challenge for science as well as other disciplines.
It would be frontier territory for the film industry, for instance, to make some of their big budget films such as the Lord of the Rings series shot on location in New Zealand.
PNG presents equally panoramic but also different scenery for films of that sort.
Such enterprises can attract a lot of positive attention and at the same time bring in a lot of foreign exchange into the country.
So far, the development experience has been concentrated on mineral, oil and other natural resource projects.
Other industries which this country has much capacity to develop such as tourism, sports, the arts and scientific and medical research have fallen far behind.
The Government must be willing to offer stimulus packages in these industries if they are to be given any chance at all for growth.
In the final analysis, these other industries will sustain the economy long after the minerals and oil wealth have been exhausted.