Islanders go on the defensive

National, Normal

The National, Friday, May 13, 2011

M’buke Islanders, southwest of mainland Manus, are taking preventative measures to safeguard their island community from the effects of climate change, a conservationist says.
World Wide Fund (WWF) Manus marine field officer Selarn Kaluwin, who is from M’buke, said: “The M’buke people are now using their own initiatives in creating community-based adaptation plans in implementing some of their plans into realistic action.
“The community has responded quickly to save their inshore line as the beaches are faced with greater wash out by the strong waves and high tide,” Kaluwin said.
He said last month the M’buke community, led by their female acting ward development committee chairperson, Tapas Poyep, senior committee member Peter Pangkiau and the local community built a seawall.
“They have used gabbing baskets and a stick fence to act as a buffer to minimise the damage done to their shoreline.”
He said about 30m of shoreline had been washed out by high tides and strong currents.
“The sea buffer or coastal protection unit may come as one of the options, and secondly, the introducing of mangroves will be added as second step to uphold the base of the beaches.
“The selection of mangroves species for the planting has been done by the local environmental team and they will be assisted by WWF Manus.
“A donation of polybags has been given to local environmental team members and the local primary school.
“The type of mangrove to be planted was told to those who came for the polybags,” Kaluwin said.
He said the next step for the mangroves project would be targeting Whal Island , which has been heavily hit by strong waves and currents along its shoreline.
The Whal project would focus on replanting of mangroves trees back to the degraded area and wall built to reclaim the sand washed away.
“These are new ideas, using traditional knowledge and will be on trail and monitored to see the outcome,” Kaluwin said.
He said it might take a long time to reclaim the sand but the coastal protection unit “will be temporary options that will act as a buffer to slow down the impact on beaches while we look for other alternatives”.
“The Whal community has seen the impact on beaches and must support the plan,” he said.
Topal Pondros, a local environmental advocator and village court officer, appealed to the Whal community to support the plan.
Kaluwin said the WWF Manus mangroves project would be targeting T’Moneai, Johnston Island, Tawi Island and other communities in Pobuma LLG and other Manus  communities that had shown interest in the mangroves project.