Schnaubelt set to change last corner

KONOAGIL, the last frontier of New Ireland is now the focus of attention for Namatanai MP Walter Schnaubelt.
It is termed as the ‘las kona’ (last corner) of the province but Schnaubelt is determined to change that under his ‘People First’ policy to make it the first.
Life in this part of the province is unsettling for the entire populace.
Imagine walking for hours to get medicated, but only be told that there are no medical drugs. That can be quite distressing. People take risks with their little savings to pay K150 for a dinghy to get treated at a nearest health on the coastlines. Even a child walks miles to get educated.
This is a real life experience and a nightmare for the majority in the Konoagil LLG who are placed on the remotest location of the province. They have remained silent for a long time and neglected by past leadership both at the district and provincial level.
I accompanied the MP in one of his recent electoral visits earlier this month and saw first-hand the struggle of reaching the area by sea. It took us nearly three hours to reach Kaboman by sea for the MP to deliver several boats (dinghies). Thank heavens the sea was in a deep slumber when we travelled the St George Channel to reach the area. The St George Channel has swallowed many lives, but despite knowing this fact, I was amazed that I was travelling between two provinces. East New Britain was clearly visible with Mt Tavurvur – an active stratovolcano near Rabaul puffing out its smoke and the Duke of York Islands spreading out exotically on the blue sea.
The area is only accessible by sea and is far out of reach from the district town of Namatanai. Konoagil is located on the southern tip of New Ireland and has 17 wards. While enjoying my boat trip to the outback of New Ireland, the voyage gave me a sense of how complex it was for people living on the last frontier of the province to access basic government services. As we arrived at Kaboman, a mother burst into tears as she stands there wailing to the MP and his entourage on the beach front.
She recollected her tragedy when she lost her first born child while in labour in 2016. She lives in Kyte, a village along the shorelines near Kaboman. She had no dinghy fare to take her to the nearest aid post which was a 40-minute boat ride but cost K130. She told this writer that what she had witnessed was a new chapter opened by the MP to improve accessibility to basic services like health and education.
The MP under his ‘People First’ policy is adamant to improve the service delivery mechanism by vowing to work in partnership with every single ward member of Konoagil LLG including its president Isaac Tossel.
In the economic sector, Schnaubelt is raising the bar in the area with opportunities generated by the oil palm and forest projects which he had initiated prior to becoming a member of parliament in 2017.
The locals are finding economic liberation through both projects. The MP also indicated that mothers from the area would have the opportunity to sell their garden produce once a buying point is established in the area.
As a one-time champion in the fighting ring, Schnaubelt aims to win this political fight for the people of Konoagil and the rest of the district to enjoy timely services at their door step, hence the adage ‘Stretim ai dua pastaim.

  • The writer is the media and publication officer with the office of the MP for Namatanai. He can be reached for comments on phone 73043847

Reducing CO2 emission by soil moisture

Did you know that soil moisture or water can control the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere? How is this possible?

From the natural sources of carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas that is synonymous with greenhouse effect and global warming along with sulphur dioxide (SO2), about 29 per cent is released into the atmosphere (carbon pool) by respiring organisms, mostly by decomposing bacteria (saprotrophs) found in soil.
When decomposing bacteria such as Actinomycete break down organic matter, they release carbon dioxide as a waste product of respiration to the surrounding. The rate of decomposition and the amount of CO2 (volume) released into the atmosphere or surrounding is very much dependent on the prevailing conditions in the soil at that time. Time is of essence here because environmental conditions do change with time.

Re-forestation of savannah grasslands and cleared surfaces such as logged sites with native plant species or introduced species which are water tolerant such as pines will contribute to the leaf litter biomass an soil water-moisture retention and carbon dioxide buffering.

Factors that determine accelerated decomposition and respiration
The primary abiotic factors that stimulate greater decomposition are: Optimum soil pH; optimum soil temperature; and optimum soil moisture.
Optimum conditions (not too much, not too little) are ideal for 100 per cent efficiency or working of micro-organisms as too much or too little of it would be detrimental and fatal for their survival.

Soil-water/moisture-carbon dioxide relationship
In places where there is too much water or moisture, decomposition is retarded or slowed as water inhibits greater and faster decomposition. The same is also true in places where it’s relatively hot and soil temperature is very high like the desert; meaning there is minimal decomposition with minimal release of CO2 in such biomes.

Application and inferences to tropical rainforests
Tropical rainforest have the highest biomass of fallen leaf litter compared to other biomes but the rate of decomposition is very slow due to the high water and moisture retention and circulation within this biogeographic; mostly found between 30 degrees north and south of the equator and receive more rainfall than any other biome. This is the very reason why soils from the tropical rainforests are relatively poor in nutrients due to the slow release of nutrients to the soil. In other words, the soil carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N ratio) is higher in tropical rainforests (greater than 25 per cent) than in other biomes.
Infact, tropical rainforests are normally referred to as carbon dioxide filters, buffers or carbon sinks because bulk of the carbon is not released quickly to the carbon pool (supply). Less vegetated surfaces such as savannah grasslands and temperate deciduous forests are areas of high carbon dioxide release due to less moisture content of the soils, which is very ideal for faster decomposition of organic matter.
However, one would be thinking why soils of the savannah grasslands are not fertile and conducive for farming and agriculture and rely heavily on input of artificial fertilizer such as that of NPK, NH4NO3 and NH4SO4. The answer lies in the fact that there is not much leaf litter fall (mass of leaf litter fall is minimal ) due to lack of vegetation in the savannahs than the tropical rainforests to add to the soil organic matter mass; especially the essential elements of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) that determine soil fertility.
The other reasoning would be that the soil temperature is too hot for microbes to thrive and may be denatured through excessive heating of the soil making them devoid of moisture due to lack of vegetative cover; hence the poor soil fertility.

Strategies to mitigate
So what do we do in the savannahs and less vegetated areas to reduce CO2 emissions, increase soil moisture retention and subsequently increase soil fertility? The answer is through re-forestation and re-vegetation of savannah grasslands and cleared surfaces such as logged sites with native plant species or introduced species which are xerophytic (water tolerant) such as the pine species that will contribute to the leaf litter biomass an soil water-moisture retention and carbon dioxide buffering.

  • The author has a Masters in Environmental Science specialising in Water Science and Climate Change Management. The article is written for those in the business of climate change to take note of when formulating policies and strategies around climate change abatement and intervention programmes. He can be contacted via email:

One thought on “LIFESTYLE

  • Over 50 months ago the Namatanai MP promised the clear felling for oil palm would mean: “Infrastructure development and market access,” he said.
    Have community infrastructural projects such as roads and wharves started or just logging trails?

Leave a Reply