The National, Monday July 8th, 2013
SOME islands in the Siassi group in Morobe are sinking at a notable rate, a scientist claims.
Head of the Forest Authority and Forest Research Institute Dr Simon Saulei made the observation and said the isands were sinking fast after being sworn in as a member of the newly established Morobe Climate Change Committee in Lae last Friday.
Saulei said some low-lying islands near the main island of Umboi were experiencing sea levels rising so quickly that people would have to be relocated to bigger islands sooner than later.
He claimed the grave of a former missionary which had been on higher grounds years ago was at sea level now and measurements and calculations were made according to the burial site.
He claimed the rise was as much as 3m but this could not be verified.
Saulei said the United National Development Programme had set up a pilot project in the area and was looking at ways to assist the affected villagers.
He said the movement of villagers to other islands meant other problems such as land issues and approval had to be sought from landowners before this happened.
“People virtually lose their identities and culture when they are uprooted from their homes and re-located elsewhere,” Saulei said.
He said Morobe, as elsewhere in the world, was a vulnerable area and was being affected more than other places.
“Inland areas are experiencing a lot more landslips, flooding is becoming common and in agriculture, planting and harvesting times are changing so villagers find they have to change their gardening timetables,” Saulei said.