By PETER KINJAP
BOTH in government corridors and private sector spaces, environment conservation has become hot topic these days.
Whether we talk about an international conference or the launch of a new green project, everyone seems to be talking about preserving Earth while incorporating a great deal of innovative efforts to make energy use more efficient.
Cities in the world have contributed to environmental degradation and climate change and thus it requires every city in the world to take actions to save suffocating Earth.
Unfortunately, Pacific Island countries are significantly exposed to the environmental disruption than most other parts of the planet. Some may argue that it is not our doing that we encounter this environmental disaster while others may say that we have and are contributing to the global greenhouse effect, not in a big way like those factories and developed countries, but in our daily lives we have used man-made things which are foreign to the natural environment such as plastics bags. In the last couple of years, we have observed a considerable rise in floods, cyclones, volcanoes, storms, bushfires and landslides in the very region.
While bushfires have been raging in Australia, Fiji has been hit hard by cyclones in recent times. Meanwhile, PNG has recorded the first climate change refugees in the world due to rising sea levels.
Climate change is real and it requires everyone’s active participation in the either adaption or mitigation measures. PNG is a resilient society and offers the world a third of its ‘lungs’ with the intact forests. As responsible citizens and being member of the global community, we can add value to the global solutions and contribute to the world’s lungs. And that is to plant more trees where applicable and possible.
10 million trees by 2030
Travel4Green (T4G) PNG is a climate change mitigation project that wishes to sustain the indigenous intact forests in the country and plant more trees under its “10-million trees by 2030 in PNG” programme.
Living in the second largest island in the world with a virgin forest area covering 29 million out of the country’s 46.28 million hectares of landmass, the move towards planting more trees is quite significant.
The primary aim of T4G PNG is to sustain forests while minimising the impact of the carbon footprint on our environment. This not-for-profit private project would allow travelers to determine the amount of carbon footprint they leave in each country and then calculate their contribution to global emissions as well.
T4G PNG will determine, record and show tourists how ‘negatively impacting’ their trips are to the efforts of the local and international communities. In the long run, this project will gather a significant amount of data that can be viewed and interpreted in the future to determine the pros and cons of tourism by applying certain filters/conditions.
One of T4G’s objectives is to plant 10 million trees by 2030 in PNG. Trees create the very air we breathe and filter air pollution. Trees also help to levels of toxic air in urban areas. Most importantly, trees sequester carbon, helping to remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the air, which cools the earth.
When you plant trees in your yard and around your home, they’ll provide shade to cool your home and windbreaks to reduce cold winds. So start planting trees in your community – in parks, around schools, hospitals or clinics. If you are residing in Port Moresby, you can plant trees in your own yard as long as the roots and branches would not damage nearby properties. T4G has a mini tree nursery set up in Morata 2 and is now inviting city residents who wish to plant the rain trees around their yards to contact the writer to get seedlings.
How far away from the house should one plant a tree?
Determining the location of shade trees; large trees, up to 70 metres or more should be planted at least 20 metres from the home, medium-sized trees up to 70 metres tall, 15 metres from the home, and small trees 30 metres tall or less, 8 to 10 metres from the home. In this way you are helping to fight global climate change. As trees grow, they help stop climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. Trees also provide many benefits to us every day.
Additionally, they provide habitats for birds and other wildlife. A mature tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and can sequester one tonne of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old.
Planting more trees is a great way to sequester carbon emissions. Through photosynthesis trees absorb carbon dioxide to produce oxygen and wood. By ensuring that the trees planted are native broad leaf species you can help to preserve the world’s environment and biodiversity.
Planting trees has the potential to deliver huge benefits for our environment, our people, our communities and our economy as well.
Under the 10 million tree project initiated by T4G, the focus is on making it easier to plant trees using its current volunteer network nationwide. They currently have volunteers in Morobe, Chimbu, Eastern Highlands, Central, Manus, Mt. Hagen, Bougainville, Milne Bay, East New Britain and Madang.
It’s a nationwide project starting in Port Moresby. Invitations have been sent to government bodies and private sector players to be part of the project to address climate change and plant more trees.
New Zealand targets a billion trees
Meanwhile, New Zealand is planning to plant a billion trees by 2028. Their aim is to see trees integrated into the landscape to complement and diversify their existing land uses, rather than see large-scale land conversion to forestry. They want to see innovative ideas, research and sector development that will improve the way New Zealanders plant and grow trees.
To plant the right tree, they want to encourage both permanent and plantation forests made up of exotic and native tree species. It encourages the planting of native species to improve biodiversity.
To plant at the right place, they wanted trees planted to be suitable for the site and their intended use, aligning tree planting with local land-use and planting priorities and strategies.
To plant for the right purpose, they wanted to make sure tree planting is well-planned and considers the long-term maintenance and end-use of the trees.
Commercial viability for production forests and protection for permanent forests should be thought through before planting.
They also want to make sure plantings take local social, environmental, cultural and economic priorities into account.
In order to meet the emissions reduction target to achieve the reduction of 2.5 million tons of carbon-dioxide over the next five years starting in 2019, Fiji is also investing to plant more trees.
Faith-based organisations join campaign
Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Forests, Pene Baleinabuli at the REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries) Environmental Stewardship Inter-Faith Based Organisation Leaders Awareness Forum at the Pacific Regional Seminary in Suva said: “The aim for Fiji is to plant four million trees in four years, to get the communities involved and actively engage with them and the Ministry of Forests wants to establish nurseries around the country where we will invite members of the community to look after them.”
The objective is to create awareness of Fiji’s National REDD+ programme amongst the interfaith organisational leaders.
For PNG, T4G is inviting government and private sector players to join the efforts to plant 10-million trees by 2030.
The Plastic ban could be the last option for PNG. The negative impact of a ban on business, especially small PNG businesses relying on plastic bags would affect the country’s economy.
Planting more trees is an easy way to fight climate change such a country like PNG would take action. Not plastic ban at this time.
- Peter Kinjap is a freelance correspondent on Climate Change issues (REDD+ in PNG) and advocates for Travel4Green (T4G) PNG project.
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