The National, Thursday June 20th, 2013
SIX villages in Turubu, East Sepik, are joining forces to conserve their rainforest and wildlife from exploitation.
Wewak MP Jim Simatab launched the villages’ combined organisation, the Gunetengie Resource Owners’ Association, last Saturday at Tring village, and called on non-governmental organisations to work with the Government to avoid mistakes of the past.
“I came here today for the launching of the Gunetengie Resources Owners’ Association because I want the Government and the NGOs to work together,” Simatab said.
“We have heard and read about massive destruction caused by floods at Hawain on the west coast of Wewak where there’s logging going on.
“It’s the similar story in Madang where there is mass logging up at the Trans-Gogol area.
“These are man-made disasters which could have been avoided if NGOs had advised the Government and not criticised it later.
“The loggers do not respect our sites. They work day and night cutting down trees and I invite the NGOs to guide the Government (on it),” Simatab said.
The villages making up the association include Kamasau, Ibab, Tring, Wobu, Samap One and Samap Two.
The association aims to protect the environment, its habitats and promote eco-tourism and wildlife management.
Association chairman Joe Warek said the work of protecting the environment was started by their forefathers and they wanted to continue it.
“We have Tang Mow, Garamut and Papindo supermarkets for people living in town. But for us living far from town, our supermarket is the forest,” Warek said.
“We go to the bush for food, meat and water. The bush is our supermarket and we must preserve it.”
Executive director of CELCO lawyers Peter Bossy said such associations aligned with reputable NGO groups did not oppose development but wanted the wishes of the landowners followed.
Simatab urged NGOs to provide guidance on how to develop resources in the district.